January 2nd, 2010

  • blinger

2009 Round-Up

Another year down and what a year it was. I survived another year in my crazy job, got promoted, came within three chapters of finishing my debut novel, went to the Middle East and Europe, became a godmummy. And as my godson turns 1, a new year begins. I have so many hopes for this year with finishing my book and maybe, hopefully, finally getting it published as number one on that list - it would mean the whole world to me to see some of the readers on this community reviewing my baby. But for the time being, I will do what all auditors are good at – reviewing the year just been.
I did not make the 50 challenge, nor did I get to 15000 pages but I improved on last year, and that’s all I ever hope for really. My list for 2009 is as follows:

1.      New Moon by Stephenie Meyer – 563 pages

2.      Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer – 628 pages

3.      Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer – 754 pages

4.      Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli – 316 pages

5.      Muse of Fire by Dan Simmons – 105 pages

6.      Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs – 509 pages

7.      Sex with the Queen: 900 years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics by Eleanor Herman – 295 pages

8.      Death du Jour by Kathy Reichs – 436 pages

9.      A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the First: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket – 162 pages

10.  The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 1: The Wounded Land by Stephen Donaldson – 499 pages

11.  The Host by Stephenie Meyer – 617 pages

12.  Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs – 382 pages

13.  Divine by Mistake by P.C. Cast – 537 pages

14.  Divine by Choice by P.C. Cast – 358 pages

15.  Oddly Enough: Unbelievably outrageous but true stories from the news edited by Robert Basler – 256 pages

16.  The Gospel According to Judas by Benjamin Iscariot by Jeffrey Archer – 101 pages

17.  Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot – 328 pages

18.  My Steve by Terri Irwin – 270 pages

19.  The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor – 376 pages

20.  Hatter M: The Looking Glass Wars – Volume 1: Issues 1-4 by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier; illustrated by Ben Templesmith – 171 pages

21.  Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs – 432 pages

22.  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll – 357 pages

23.  The Looking Glass Wars II: Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor – 391 pages

24.  Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney – 263 pages

25.  Sacha Baron Cohen: The Unauthorized Biography: From Cambridge to Kazakhstan by Kathleen Tracy – 263 pages

26.  Grave Secrets by Kathy Reichs – 315 pages

27.  The Looking Glass Wars III: Arch Enemy by Frank Beddor – 370 pages

28.  A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton – 521 pages

29.  Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee – 220 pages

30.  A Caress of Twilight by Laurell K. Hamilton – 326 pages

31.  The True Story of Butterfish by Nick Earls – 280 pages

32.  Seduced by Moonlight by Laurell K. Hamilton – 367 pages


32 / 50 bookss. 64% done!

11768 / 15000 pages. 78% done!
Top 5 books (not including re-reads):
5. Sex with the Queen
4. Love, Stargirl
3. Divine by Mistake
2. The Host
1. Arch Enemy
Interesting facts:
Improvement on last year: 5 books (1363 pages)
Library books: 10
Non-fiction element: 4
Most read author:
            Books: 5 – Kathy Reichs (2074 pages)
            Pages: 2562 – Stephenie Meyer (4 books)
            Followed by: Frank Beddor – 4 books/1308 pages; Laurell K. Hamilton – 3 books/1214 pages
Books with a fantasy element: 17
Re-reads: 2
Sequels/Not a stand-alone or first in series: 15
Comparison to 2008:

32 / 27 books. 119% done!

11768 / 10405 pages. 113% done!
Goals for 2010:

-          Beat 2009 – read at least 33 books, 11800 pages

-          Finish off some of the series I’ve started, beginning with:

o       Merry Gentry series

o       The Tudor Court novels

o       The Partholon novels

-          Read more classics

-          Finish that modernism anthology

-          Read more non-fiction

In case anyone is interested, I am also keeping a running list on my journal of the books I want to read. This list is not complete, as livejournal deems its too long, but some of you may find it interesting. It can be found here and here.
Hope everyone had a fantastic 2009 and best of luck for 2010!


Books 216-241

So, I didn't make it to 300 or even 250. But I still feel 241 is quite respectable (my family pretty much considers me insane). Once again, no repeats, nothing unfinished, no fan fic. *laughs* If I counted those... I've been on a fan fic kick the last two months, which eats away my fiction reading time. Anyways, the last of my books from 2009:

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  • krinek

59. 2041 edited by Jane Yolen (2009 books)

Title: 2041: Twelve Short Stories About the Future by Top Science Fiction Writers
Editor: Jane Yolen
Year: 1994
# of pages: 218
Date read: 11/28/2009
Rating: 3*/5 = good


Where will you be in the year 2041?

The Drapery Defense League objects to Hamlet because Polonius is stabbed while he's hiding behind a curtain, rock 'n' roll gangs roam the streets, a scrumptious free confection called swoodies has been devised to make people gain weight--then pay to lose it, and people attach an extra ear to their own to amplify noise....

Leading science fiction writer Jane Yolen presents twelve humorous to horrific, entertaining and intriguing stories about the future by top writers, including Bruce Coville, Joe Haldeman, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia A. McKillip and Connie Willis.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this collection of short stories about possible future. Connie Willis' Much Ado About [Censored] made me both think about censorship and chuckle at the absurdity of various groups banning lines from Hamlet until there was practically nothing left. On the opposite spectrum, stories such as Carol Farley's Lose Now, Pay Later and Bruce Coville's Old Glory made me think about not taking responsibility and rights for granted.
Jack reading
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These are the books I read in 2009, I made the goal of 50 spot on (with a little bit of a rush there at the end). They are in order of reading. Thanks to Goodreads for keeping track for me.

1. The Ivory and the Horn (Newford, #6),de Lint, Charles - I enjoy his tales of urban fantasy set in his city of Newford

2. Kushiel's Avatar (Kushiel's Legacy, #3), Carey, Jacqueline - I love these stupid books so much. Intricately plotted, kinda pervy, what's not to like. This may be the best of the bunch.

3. House of Leaves, Danielewski, Mark Z. - I wanted to like this, I really did. But alas, it bored me silly. Still, props for going outside the box (literally)

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Eric in Robe

No. 1 for 2010

Title: True Blue
Author: David Baldacci
Rating: 5/5
Book: 1/50 (2% completed)
Book in personal challenge with niun: 2/50 Fantasy, 3/50 Mystery and 0/25 Classics
Pages: 454 pgs/15,000 pgs (3.03% completed)
Total Pages 454 pages
Next up: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Wow...it feels strange to be at Book 1 again ;)

I would recommend this book to all mystery lovers! It was full of suspense, drama, likable characters and a vicious villian. Baldacci sure did not fail to deliver a great read!

xposted to 50bookchallenge, 15000pages and bookworm84

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HP Kels writing

books 81-90, the last of 09

81. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (285 pages)

82. The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett (210 pages)

83. Ways of the World (volume 1: to 1500) by Robert W. Strayer (428 pages)

84. An Idiot Girls’ Christmas by Laurie Notaro (142 pages)

85. You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs (206 pages)

86. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (216 pages)

87. Politically Correct Holiday Stories by James Garner (100 pages)

88. Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (274 pages)

89. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams (142 pages)

90. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (1013 pages)



Bold=It’s great—read it now!!

Italics=It sucks—run away!

Plain Text=It’s varying degrees of ok.

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Books in 2009

So I reached 50 fairly early on in the year, but I still can't quite make it to 100. I did however read more books and pages than last year!

Definite highlights included: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, and Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran. I also really enjoyed Ruth Reichl's autobiographies, and I'm starting to get into foodie mysteries, with Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke.

Booklist 2009

1. In an Antique Land - Amitav Ghosh
2. The Tales of Beedle the Bard - J.K. Rowling
3. The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros
4. Cooking for Mr Latte - Amanda Hesser
5. Death by Darjeeling - Laura Childs
6. A House in the Sunflowers - Ruth Silvestre
7. The Passion of Artemisia - Susan Vreeland
8. Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death - M.C. Beaton
9. The Girls - Lori Lansens
10. A Year in the Merde - Stephen Clarke
11. The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway
12. The Debt to Pleasure - John Lanchester
13. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher - Kate Summerscale
14. A Veiled Deception - Annette Blair
15. Sepulchre - Kate Mosse
16. Home to Big Stone Gap - Adriana Trigiani
17. Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene
18. Fasting, Feasting - Anita Desai
19. Dying for Chocolate - Diane Mott Davidson
20. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
21. Diggers - Terry Pratchett
22. The Cave - Kate Mosse
23. The Knitting Circle - Ann Hood
24. Sleep Pale Sister - Joanne Harris
25. Delicious - Nicky Pellegrino
26. The 19th Wife - David Ebershoff
27. The Shop in Blossom Street - Debbie Macomber
28. The Almost Moon - Alice Sebold
29. Isabel's Daughter - Judi Hendricks
30. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
31. Crescent - Diana Abu-Jaber
32. The Iron Council - China Mieville
33. Eat Cake - Jeanne Ray
34. Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem - Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
35. Sushi for Beginners - Marian Keyes
36. The Bean Trees - Barbara Kingsolver
37. We need to talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
38. Through the Grinder - Cleo Coyle
39. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer
40. Escape - Carolyn Jessop
41. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder - Joanne Fluke
42. Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett
43. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
44. A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff
45. The Hindi Bindi Club - Monica Pradhan
46. The Prophet from Ephesus - Caroline Lawrence
47. Petite Anglaise - Catherine Sanderson
48. Garlic and Sapphires - Ruth Reichl
49. Vince & Joy - Lisa Jewell
50. The Senator's Wife - Sue Miller
51. Gunpowder Green - Laura Childs
52. Needles and Pearls - Gil McNeil
53. Sympathy for the Devil - Jerrilyn Farmer
54. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer
55. The Magician's Guild - Trudi Canavan
56. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver
57. Jin Shei - Alma Alexander
58. The Eagle of the Ninth - Rosemary Sutcliff
59. Guernica - Dave Boling
60. State of the Onion - Julie Hyzy
61. The Man from Pomegranate Street - Caroline Lawrence
62. Comfort Me With Apples - Ruth Reichl
63. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
64. Ruso and the Demented Doctor - R.S. Downie
65. Coraline - Neil Gaiman
66. The Return - Victoria Hislop
67. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme - Krista Davis
68. Brighton Rock - Graham Greene
69. The Beach House - Jane Green
70. Physik - Angie Sage
71. A Good Yarn - Debbie Macomber
72. The Man Who Ate Everything - Jeffrey Steingarten
73. The Silver Branch - Rosemary Sutcliff
74. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
75. The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry - Kathleen Flynn
76. The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndam
77. The Ivy Chronicles - Karen Quinn
78. The Rule of Four - Ian Cladwell and Dustin Thomason
79. Beloved - Toni Morrison
80. The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood
81. Rosewater and Soda Bread - Marsha Mehran
82. The Cereal Murders - Diane Mott Davidson
83. Regeneration - Pat Barker
84. Baking Cakes in Kigali - Gaile Parkin
85. I Coriander - Sally Gardner
86. Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
87. The Wedding Officer - Anthony Capella
88. Wings - Terry Pratchett
89. Notes on an Exhibition - Patrick Gale
90. The Tavern on Maple Street - Sharon Owens
91. The Strawberry Shortcake Murder - Joanne Fluke

Pages so far: 31879.

Reading feet

Books 23-27 to finish up 2009

Once again, I failed to meet the 50 book goal, but I've had a lot of fun doing the reading! Maybe next year? Doubtful, since my wedding and (hopefully) dissertation will get in the way. But we'll see. Maybe if I choose short books?

rating scale
The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Translated by Lucia Graves)
Amazon Link
Rating: 4
Genre: Mystery

When I first started reading this book, I was a bit put off by the vocabulary used. It seemed a bit over the top and "stilted" somehow. But I decided to chalk that up to the fact that it is a translation and slog through it. I'm glad I did.

The book is about a young boy whose father knows of a place called the Cemetary of Forgotten Books. This is where books no one wants anymore are stored to protect them from the fate of disappearing forever. This concept really appealed to me, and the way in which it was described gave me a great picture of this place in my mind. It's a tradition in his family, when a child reaches a certain age, he may go to this place and choose one book for his very own. The main character chooses a book that changes his life forever.

Someone begins following the boy around the city. And to make matters even stranger, the person claims to be a character from the book the boy chose. Things start happening to the boy that seem to be straight from the novels pages. Any attempt to find out more about the author of the book leads him deeper and deeper into the mystery, although he finds out the author had been killed in a dual, probably by one of his good friends. It all seems to have a supernatural effect to it, and can get kind of scary/creepy at times -- especially when they visit the home for old people to visit the authors old nanny. The twists and turns in this book are Dickens-esque, and the ending even surprised me, which is hard to do. I highly recommend it, if you can get past the vocabulary.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
Amazon Link
Rating: 3.5
Genre: Drama, Adventure

This book definitely kept me reading, but it was kind of predictable. It's about a boy named Edgar who was born without the ability to speak. He comes from a family of dog breeders, they have their own special "Sawtelle Dog" that they breed, train and sell. Interestingly, the Sawtelle dogs were started as a kind of experiment, to see if they could breed behaviors into dogs rather than physical attributes, to make them easier to train and better companions. That's not the point of the book, but it does play a part.

After the death of Edgar's father, his uncle moves in to help him and his mother with the dogs. The expected happens, and the uncle and mother begin a relationship, which horrifies Edgar. After the accidental death of a family friend, for which Edgar is afraid he'll be blamed, Edgar takes some of the dogs and runs away. He learns a lot during his adventures and meets up with a strange man who he stays with for a while. Eventually Edgar decides to go home and face his uncle...

Overall, the book pulls you in and is a good, fun, well-told story, even if it is a bit predictable. I often forgot about Edgar's inability to speak throughout the book - we are generally aware of his thoughts, and he communicates through sign to the dogs and his mother. My only real complaint is the element of the supernatural that pops up, where Edgar can see and speak to ghosts at two (possibly three... hard to tell whether it's a ghost or he is just hallucinating for one) points in the book. I thought that was pretty lame and unrealistic, and in both cases the same effect could have been had by perfectly natural means.

In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam - Robert S. McNamera and Brian VanDeMark
Amazon Link
Rating: 4
Genre: History, Memoirs

In case you don't recognize the name, Robert S. McNamera was the Secretary of Defense during most of the Vietnam war. He wrote this book in the late 90s using notes and memoirs written by himself and others during the time of the events. His reasoning was because he saw the administration at the time making many of the same mistakes that his administration made in Vietnam. I feel that is even more true now with the situation in Iran and Afghanistan.

This was a book club book. At first, I was hesitant to read it. Skimming the book showed lots of names and places I'd never heard of (somehow my US History classes only ever got to the 1920s each year) and I thought it'd be boring and I'd be left behind not knowing what was going on. But fortunately, McNamera does a great job explaining who everyone is (and in case you miss it, there's also a list of names and descriptions in the back of the book). He's also a wonderful story teller, making the book seem a lot less like a historical text. It's not just names and dates. It tells of his relationships with both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, his relationship with other members of the cabinet and members of the military serving in Vietnam. His thoughts and opinions on different bills that are passed or memos delivered to the Presidents. I was really impressed with the book, and learned a lot about Vietnam and the government in general.

Letters to a Young Mathematician - Ian Stewart
Amazon Link
Rating: 5
Genre: ???

I have no idea how to explain the genre of this, but it is excellent and highly recommended to EVERYONE, regardless of your interest in math (or lack thereof). The book unfolds as a series of letters from the author to Meg, a fictional (as far as I know) female with an interest in mathematics. The author, in case you are unaware, is a famous mathematician in real life. He's done lots of great research in the field, but in recent years his work has mainly been in writing "popular mathematics" - that is, books that the rest of us can understand to explain complicated, but interesting apsects of math that we don't see in school. Meg is made to be the daughter of a family friend. At the start of the book, she's in high school and contemplating becoming a math major. By the end of the book, she's a tenured professor/researcher at some unnamed university.

At the start of the book, she has questions about how much money she could make with a math degree, whether it will just be more of the same crap she learned in high school but with bigger numbers (as is the usual pattern before college), whether learning mathematics will change her view of the world and change her view of beauty, and so forth. As the book goes on, it changes to talk about different ways of teaching mathematics (bad vs. good teachers), what kind of research problems mathematicians tackle, what it takes to get tenure, conferences and travel around the world...

Ok, I'm making this sound really boring. It's not, not at all. It's the ANSWERS that are amazing, not the questions. Give it a try. I think you'll be surprised. It's a really fast read, and worth the few hours you'll put into it.

A Mystery of Errors (A Shakespeare and Smythe Mystery) - Simon Hawke
Amazon Link
Rating: 3.5
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

My final book of 2009, this is another short read, finished in a few hours on December 30. The main character, Symington Smythe, is traveling to London and on the way becomes friends with William Shakespeare, who is also on his way there. The two become entangled in a strange mystery, involving a girl (who Smythe falls in love with) who is engaged to be married by way of an arrangement by her father to a gentleman who she's never met. She is not interested in marrying this man, as she wants to marry for love. The man keeps flip flopping on whether he wants to marry her at all, and claiming he did not say/do the things he said/did at their last meeting. As such, she is beginning to be regarded as a madwoman. When the man is believed to be murdered, Smythe wishes to clear her name... and then the man shows up, perfectly alive, with seemingly no recollection of his murder! As the mystery unfolds, anyone with a good background in Shakespeare and the play on which the title of this book is based can probably guess the answer to the mystery, although perhaps there is a slight twist that will throw you off? Regardless, it's a very fun book with lots of little historical tidbits thrown in. I'm looking forward to finding the next books in the "Shakespeare and Smythe Mysterys" collection!
  • krinek

60. Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett (2009 books)

Title: Bangkok Haunts
Author: John Burdett
Year: 2007
# of pages: 290
Date read: 12/2/2009
Rating: 3*/5 = good


"Sonai Jitpleecheep -- the devout Buddhist Royal Thai Police detective who led us through the best sellers Bangkok 8 and Bangkok Tattoo -- returns in this blistering new novel.

Sonjai has seen virtually everything on his beat in Bangkok's District 8, but nothing like the video he's just been sent anonymously: "Few crimes make us fear for the evolution of our species. I am watching one right now."

He's watching a snuff film. And the person dying before his disbelieving eyes is Damrong -- a woman he once loved obsessively and, now it becomes clear, endlessly. And there is something more: something at the end of the film that leaves Sonjai both figuratively and literally haunted.

While his investigation will lead him through the office of the ever-scheming police captain, Vikorn ('Don't spoil a great case with too much perfectionism,' he advises Sonjai); in and out of the influence of a perhaps psychotic wandering monk; and eventually into the gilded rooms of the most exclusive men's club in Bangkok (whose members will do anything to protect their identities, and to explore their most secret fantasies), it also leads him to his own simple bedroom where he sleeps next to his pregnant wife while his dreams deliver him up to Damrong. . .

Ferociously smart and funny, furiously fast-paced, and laced through with an erotic ghost story that gives a new dark twist to the life of our hero, Bangkok Haunts does exactly that from the first page to last." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I liked this installment in the Bangkok series featuring detective Sonjai Jitpleecheep. I especially liked how Burdett, through Sonjai's narration, brings the reader into different worlds and cultures. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Godfather of Kathmandu.


60 / 100 books. 60% done!

19311 / 30000 pages. 64% done!
Default Ron

Tulpa: A Paranormal Suspense Book 43 for 2009

Tulpa: A Paranormal Suspense by Sarah Morin
Genre: Paranormal
Pages: 77


UConn student Katrina Talbot is left scrambling to avoid eviction when her boyfriend Josh abruptly moves out of their apartment just before Christmas. Desperate to afford rent until she can find another roommate, Kat takes a baby-sitting job in Dunbarton, New Hampshire for winter break. Located deep in the woods and isolated from civilization by all but a mile-long, unpaved driveway, her employer's house provides the perfect environment to brood over a broken heart.

But Kat gets more than she bargained for when she starts seeing odd footprints in the snow and menacing creatures lurking amid the trees. The unexpected arrival of the children's mysterious -- and charming -- older brother Peter further complicates matters.

This fast-paced story seamlessly weaves paranormal elements, romance and suspense and leaves the reader eagerly turning the page to see what happens next. Set in the lush landscape of New Hampshire, this chilling tale showcases Morin's talent to create interesting characters engaged in stressful situations which serve to progress the plot in a believable manner.

She touches upon the paranormal just enough to create tension, yet manages to avoid delving into the inane. The finale leaves the reader with a sense of closure and a satisfaction with character resolution.

A great short story!

Books completed: 43/50
Pages completed: 13,695/20,000

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Book challenge for 2009

Didn’t make the 50 this year because of yet *another* move in late September (courtesy of my company), getting caught in the blizzard in DC Dec. 20 and then getting caught in a freak blizzard in Tulsa Christmas Eve and crashing my Jeep! Oh well! I came close!

Books read for 2009

1.      Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

2.      Mischief by Amanda Quick

3.      Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

4.      Death Masks by Jim Butcher

5.      A Damned Serious Business: My Life in Comedy by Rex Harrison

6.      Love Smart by Phil McGraw

7.      Blood Rites by Jim Butcher

8.      Dead Beat by Jim Butcher

9.      Then Comes Seduction by Mary Balogh

10.   Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

11.   Sun Tzu on the Art of War

12.   You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

13.   The Perfect Poison by Amanda Quick

14.   The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind

15.   Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind

16.   Home: A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews

17.   Chainfire by Terry Goodkind

18.   White Knight by Jim Butcher

19.   Phantom by Terry Goodkind

20.   Confessor by Terry Goodkind

21.   Howard’s End by E.M. Forster

22.   Murder at Waverly Place Victoria Thompson

23.   Small Favor by Jim Butcher

24.   Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

25.   Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

26.   Ben Franklin in Paris by Sidney Michaels

27.   Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

28.   Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

29.   The Waking of a Dream by Sarah Morin

30.   Sex:Avoided Subjects Discussed in Plain English by Henry Stanton

31.   Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

32.   The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and William Nicholson

33.   Night by Elie Wiesel

34.   Deception by Amanda Quick

35.   Wicked Widow by Amanda Quick

36.   In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories, and Prayers by Mother Teresa

37.   Betty and Rita: La Dolce Vita by Judith E. Hughes and Michael Malyszko

38.   Tales of Beetle the Bard by JK Rowling

39.   Cary Grant

40.   Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

41.   Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

42.   A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

43.   Tulpa by Sarah Morin

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El Corazon

3. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets

Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
by Herge
Started/Finished: January 3, 2010
This is my first stab at reading any of these books. I knew the Tintin adventures were written for kids, but didn't expect them to be this simplistic. I'm going to assume that they get a little better in later tales. I really don't want to read page after page after page of Tintin getting caught by the bad guys and then magically escaping 11 panels later over and over again. The artwork was neat though. Since they're a fast read, I'll give them a few more tries before I decide this series is just too juvenile for me, but they're not off to a great start. 141 pages. Grade: C

Total # of Books Read in 2010: 3
Total # of Pages Read in 2010: 1,142

72 and 73 from 2009 and book 1 from 2010

1. I Am the Messenger - (1/2) - Markus Zusak 368p


I love Markus Zusak. He has a way of putting pen to paper on the widest range of emotions. He knows people.

The main character's dog is called "The Doorman."

"I find that all I want to do is make in inside and hug the Doorman. I hope he hugs me back."

Who hasn't felt that? That moment where you're so down and you have nothing to look forward to but your dog. I don't know, I just think it gets you right in the gut.

Zusak writes with tenderness and humor and insight, and I can't wait to read his next book.

You can't compare this at all to The Book Thief, but it's fun (if a bit flawed) and any Zusak is good Zusak, and I'd recommend it.

73. Go with Me: A Novel (P.S.) - (12/31) - Castle Freeman Jr. 192p

3 people get into a car and drive place to place looking for a guy. That's the main thrust of this story. How that turned into the book this is, I'll never know.

Freeman is really talented. His writing style is very distinctive. Matter of fact in some ways, rambling in others, and filled with dialog that is natural and yet quirky, and very specific to the mood of the tale.

It's a short novel, and easily read in one sitting so obviously we don't delve much into what makes the characters tick, but that makes them no less interesting. There are moments of laugh out loud humor, and a certain degree of suspense.

I thought it was great. This was my second Freeman, and I'll be looking forward to more. He's got sort of a Cormac McCarthy "lite" vibe going, and I don't mean that in any kind of insulting way. There's similarties in sparseness and subject matter and tone ... but with punctuation and without all the heaviness.

Definitely recommended.

72. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater - (12/30) - Kurt Vonnegut 190p

5/5 + Favorite and frankly, some gushing ...

"Sylvia, I'm going to be an artist."
"An Artist?"
"I am going to love these discarded Americans even though they are useless and unattractive. That is going to be my work of art."

And what a masterpiece it is! This book is sweet, funny, sad and really epitomizes Vonnegut's genius. I absolutely loved it, and think it has taken the place of Slapstick as my favorite Vonnegut.

TOP 10 for 2009 (in no particular order)

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater - Kurt Vonnegut

I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith

The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel (P.S.) - Michael Chabon

The Book Thief - Marcus Zusak

Never Let Me Go - Kuzuo Ishiguro

Cathedral of the Sea: A Novel - Ildefonso Falcones

Five Quarters of the Orange: A Novel (P.S.) - Joanne Harris

The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel - Yoko Ogawa 192p

East of Eden - John Steinbeck

American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis

My complete list can be found here
  • krinek

61. The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness (2009 books)

Title: The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness
Author: H.P. Lovecraft
Year: 1996
# of pages: 379
Date read: 12/19/2009
Rating: 3*/5 = good


One of the most influential practitioners of American horror, H.P. Lovecraft inspired the work of Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Clive Barker. As he perfected his mastery of the macabre, his works developed from seminal fragments into acknowledged masterpieces of terror. This volume traces his chilling career and includes:

IMPRISONED WITH THE PHARAOHS--Houdini seeks to reveal the demons that inhabit the Egyptian night.
AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS--An unsuspecting expedition uncovers a city of untold terror, buried beneath an Antarctic wasteland.

Plus, for the first time in any Del Rey edition:

HERBERT WEST: REANIMATOR--Mad experiments yield hideous results in this, the inspiration for the cult film Re-Animator.
COOL AIR--An icy apartment hides secrets no man dares unlock.
THE TERRIBLE OLD MAN--The intruders seek a fortune but find only death!

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this collection of short stories and novellas by H.P. Lovecraft. My favorites included "Herbert West--Renanimator," "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs," and "At the Mountains of Madness." The first one I liked because of the way the narrator told the story - first a little bit, and then it repeats with more and more detail. I liked the second story because it was told from the point of view of Harry Houdini. And finally, I liked the third story because it was a good mix of discovery, adventure, and horror. Plus, it takes place in one of my favorite literary settings, Antarctica.

52_A Tale Of Two Cities

Still writing the 2009 reviews.

52  A TALE OF TWO CITIES   Charles Dickens  (England, 1859)

A Tale of Two Cities is set in both London and Paris, before and during the French Revolution. It tells the story of Charles Darnay, a French aristocrat who renounced his title and went to England, his father-in-law Alexandre Manette who was imprisoned in the Bastille and his friend Sydney Carton, a cynical barrister secretly in love with Lucie Manette.

A Tale of Two Cities is the most printed original English book. Interestingly enough, it does not feature the wide range of characters that Dickens had accustomed me to. I have to say this is not a strength. Dickens is one of my favorite writers, but not because of his main characters. His darker ones are usually the most interesting. In a novel like David Copperfield (one of the best novels ever written!), characters such as David and his Agnes do not have a complex personality. The ones that make the novel so great are Steerforth or Rosa Dartle.

The problem with  A Tale is that Charles Darnay and Lucie Manette are too conventional, but this time there's only one character - Sydney Carton - that has the power to counterbalance their lack of moral complexity. It's not enough.

On the other hand and as far as I know, Dickens has never been so poetic. The story is not only gripping and often heartbreaking, it is also filled with beautiful symbols. The ending may be a little over the top (Victorian morality is not what I prefer) but because Dickens is such a great writer and he also knows how to be unconventional now and then, I still greatly enjoyed this highly theatrical ending.

Finally, this book was recommended by someone very special to me and it does have an influence on the grade.  :)

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00/50 Twitterature

My first post here, so a short personal intro is due. I love reading, do want read more, and I am always disappointed when discovering that at the end I read less that I wanted to, could, and should read. I joined this community earlier last year, initially as a 'passive reader' and I find it both inspirational and motivating; the 'xx/50' counter does work for me an additional stimulus. So, thank you all for this additional stimulation and encouragement, I hope I will make my fifty in 2010 - with your help!

Title: Twitterature: The World's Greatest Books Retold Through Twitter.
Author: Alexander Aciman and Emmett Rensin
Rating: 4/5
Book: 0/50 (0% completed)
Pages: 145 pgs/15,000 pgs (1.00% completed)
Total Pages 145 pages

Twitterature is a rather funny book, an anti-book even, some might say. It is attempt to rewrite a large number of the great classical stories following the Twitter micro-blog format (i.e., short postings limited to 140 symbols per posting). The authors took about fifty books (did they know about 50bookchallenge?), ranging from The Iliad and The Epic of Gilgamesh through Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Proust and many others, up to Kerouac, and tried to retell these stories in about 20-25 tweets each.

The result is not so much truncated micro-digests, but rather translations of the texts into a different language, or a dialect, as if they are re-told by a particular voice, purportedly a typical Twitter user (i.e., promiscuous, egocentric, antisocial and often drug abuse prone grown-up). You need to know not only the Twitter's lingo (@, D, hashtags etc), but be somewhat familiar with the sub-subculture where 'pwned douchebags' и '< /3 cock-blocks' are 'totally used'.

As often happens with such projects, some texts are the gems, witty and original, and some are so-so. I personally liked Alice (I'm pretty bored. Oh! A white rabbit! Just like in The Matrix!), Kafka's Metamorphosis, many pieces by Shakespeare, Swift's Gulliver's Travels and a few more. As a native Russian reader, I can praise some of the retwitted Russian authors; Gogol's Overcoat is a masterpiece of irony:

Seriously, check out pics on my Flickr! This coat is so money, it doesn't even know how money it is.

But again, I find the humor of some other Russian retwits a bit questionable. All in all, it's a book worth browsing through if you have a spare hour and want some lulz. W/e.

And yes - Happy New Year and best wishes to all here!
  • krinek

62. The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks (2009 books)

Title: The Traveler
Author: John Twelve Books
Year: 2005
# of pages: 456
Date read: 12/21/2009
Rating: 3*/5 = good


A world that exists in the shadows of our own.

A conflict we will never see.

One woman stands between those determined to control history and those who will risk their lives for freedom.

Maya is hiding in plain sight in London. The twenty-six-year-old has abandoned the dangerous obligations pressed upon her by her father, and chosen instead to live a normal life. But Maya comes from a long line of people who call themselves Harlequins—a fierce group of warriors willing to sacrifice their lives to protect a select few known as Travelers.

Gabriel and Michael Corrigan are brothers living in Los Angeles. Since childhood, the young men have been shaped by stories that their late father was a Traveler, one of a small band of prophets who have vastly influenced the course of history. Travelers are able to attain pure enlightenment, and have for centuries ushered change into the world. Gabriel and Michael, who may have inherited their father’s gifts, have always protected themselves by living “off the Grid”—that is, invisible to the real-life surveillance networks that monitor people in our modern society.

Summoned by her ailing father, Maya is told of the existence of the brothers. The Corrigans are in severe danger, stalked by powerful men known as the Tabula—ruthless mercenaries who have hunted Travelers for generations. This group is determined to inflict order on the world by controlling it, and they view Travelers as an intolerable threat. As Maya races to California to protect the brothers, she is reluctantly pulled back into the cold and solitary Harlequin existence. A colossal battle looms—one that will reveal not only the identities of Gabriel and Michael Corrigan but also a secret history of our time.

Moving from the back alleys of Prague to the heart of Los Angeles, from the high deserts of Arizona to a guarded research facility in New York, The Traveler explores a parallel world that exists alongside our own. John Twelve Hawks’s stunningly suspenseful debut is an international publishing sensation that marks the arrival of a major new talent.

My thoughts:

As the first book in a trilogy, this book sets up the characters and the overall situation very well. Twelve Hawks does a good job of bringing the reader into this world, and I liked how everybody, including the antagonists (Brethren/Tabula), believed that they were doing the right thing. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, The Dark River.

Book 1

1. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Emma Bovary marries Charles early in life, mistaking what she feels for love. Soon she realises, after attending a ball with high aristocracy, that she lusts for the finer things in life. Her boredom is only emphasised by the provincial areas in which she lives and the day-to-day tawdry she is surrounded by. After giving birth to a daughter, Emma becomes a disinterested mother and is similarly apathetic about this area of her life. To assuage her boredom, Emma spends large amounts of money on clothes and items for her home, racking up debt and, when this fails to end her lust, begins extra-marital affairs.

I very much enjoyed this book. I understand many women of the time felt that they were very similar to Emma Bovary, and that Flaubert insisted 'Madame Bovary - c'est moi!' ...That's much how I felt reading the book. Emma embodies a kind of selfish, half-lived life. She is a character who imagines herself to be more deserving than she is, imagines herself to be able to procure anything she may desire if she wants it enough and when she finally realises this is not the case, she chooses to end her own life. There is a self-absorption which is despicable to most, but ultimately recognizable. The characters and society Flaubert presents are not dissimilar to Western Society today.

The novel is realist in style and may not be particularly shocking to today's audience, but it is intricate, characterized wonderfully and has already been a highlight of the year.

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