January 1st, 2011


Final books of 2010: Books 40 - 47.

40. Six Yuan Plays (penguin books)
This is I got from my parents, and it was well-worn. The plays were simple but packed and effective, loved them.

41. Gladwell - The Tipping Point (borrowed from parents)
Was actually surprised to realise I hadn't read it already. Liked it more than Blink, very interesting information.

42. Yancey - The Bible Jesus Read (Finnish translation)
A good read, and no doubt will help me with some view when reading the Bible again at some point (though I know I should reading it (the Bible) continuously, yeah :P ).

43. Fénelon - Spiritual Letters Of... (translation)
Interesting though not necessarily essential. Did bring up some good points.

44. St Francis DeSales - The Sermons Of... For Advent & Christmas (translation)
Very good sermons, picked this cos of the time of the year. :)

45. May - Vegetarian Nosh 4 Students: A Fun Cookbook For Students
Perhaps not the best student veg book I've read, but not bad either. Definitely British XD

46. Orbach - On Eating: Change Your Eating, Change Your Life
Small book with great ideas (though I don't agree on all points). Smallness makes it also possible to think as something to re-read.

47. DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: Singapore (2003)
While I don't think I'll be going there, DK's guides are great armchair-traveling type, and this was a great one :)

Left 3 books short, mainly because I concentrated on getting enough pages, NOT on enough books. Gotta remember it on the next list *LOL*

  • Current Music
    Porcupine Tree - "Circle Of Manias"

Books #65-74

65) A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (Urban Fantasy, 368 pages)
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66) Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie (Science/Environment, 336 pages)
Absolutely fascinating and horrifying book about what chemicals are doing to our bodies and how prevalent they are in our environment. I'd known a lot of what this book was about but it's always good to have everything in once place to reinforce the message. After reading, I went out and bought new shampoo and tossed my one non-stick pan in favor of a cast-iron. 5/5

67) My Double Life by Janette Rallison (Young Adult, 265 pages)
I really liked this book. It was fluffy, a quick read, and well-written. This is only the third Rallison I've read and I'm very impressed with her. 4/5

68) Waking Up in the Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo (Chick-Lit, 320 pages)
I picked this up because I loved the title. This was a really fun read. I liked all the characters, and really liked how they all showed personal growth through the story by embracing their inner crafter. 3/5

69) Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (Young Adult, 188 pages)
I think I've moved too far out of the target demographic to really appreciate this book. It was a good read but I wish the book had been around ten years earlier. A nice message about herd mentality, individuality, and doing what you think is right. 3/5

70) Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (Young Adult, 353 pages)
A fun YA book. It suffers, though, from having all the characters be fleshed out -- except the narrator. Throughout the story, I had no clue about her motivations (other than she liked Eric), or her personality other than going along with everyone else's mad schemes. It was still enjoyable but I wished that after 380 pages, I knew Scarlett better. 3.5/5

71) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (YA Dystopian SF/391 pages)
I am really glad I had the third book on hand after finishing this one. Fast-paced, interesting, and really hard to put down. 4/5

72) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (YA Dystopian SF/398 pages)
I liked this better than the first two. For one, the violence and action actually had a larger purpose rather than just as part of a kill-or-be-killed reality TV show. Secondly, Collins shows that she doesn't pull punches. I really liked the ending and how Collins illustrated that the capital didn't have a monopoly on corruption and trivializing human life. A great end to the trilogy. 4/5

73) Insatiable by Meg Cabot (Urban Fantasy, 451 pages)
I suspect that Cabot wrote this book in part to ride the vampire-wave that Twilight started, and in part as a response to it. It gently pokes fun at the idea of vampires in general before getting down to the plot. Meena Harper is a soap opera writer who has just been passed over for a promotion and told that her show is selling out and doing a vampire story line. At the same time, women are turning up dead, drained of their blood. Oh, and Meena is physic and can tell how people are going to die, and ends up in the middle of a vampire war. Throw in one sexy vampire prince, a vampire hunter from the Vatican, and her hapless brother, and you have one very fun book. I really enjoyed this one. 4/5

74) Blood, Sweat & Tea: Real-Life Adventures in an Inner-City Ambulance by Tom Reynolds (Memoirs, 280 pages)
This is a book in the published blog genre - Tom Reynolds is the pseudonym of a London EMP who blogs about his job. It was an interesting read, but because of the nature of the blog, never really felt complete. Lots of griping about the idiots who abuse the ambulance system, medical professionals who don't do their job, and other hazards of the job, with a few really touching anecdotes thrown in. I'm glad I read it but also glad I didn't pay money for it. 3/5
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So close...50 Book Challenge Wrap-Up

It's funny how things work. In 2009, I hit 50 books but didn't make 15,000 pages. In 2010, I hit 15,000 pages but didn't quite hit 50 books. Maybe 2011 will allow me to hit both goals. Only time will tell, I guess.

#45: The Victorian Undead: Sherlock Holmes vs. Zombies! - Ian Edginton, writer; Davide Fabbri, artist (2010, 140 pages)

Seriously. Sherlock Holmes. Zombies. It's the best of both worlds. And that is precisely why I absolutely could not wait to get my hands on this awesome comic series.

This collection of six DC Comics follows Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as they battle against a most formidable foe: Professor Moriarty's zombie.

After a comet hits London and turns its people into zombies. Of course, Moriarty, the criminal genius he is, manages to adapt the virus so that, upon his death at the bottom of the falls, he can continue living but retain all of his evil genius. And that's when he sets up a zombie army that he unleashes upon London. It's up to Sherlock, Watson, and Sherlock's brother Mycroft to save the day.

Maybe it's me, but I'm pretty sure the above paragraphs were gushing just a bit. I seriously think this is not only one of the most creative entries in the current vs. zombies fare but also one of the most creative alternate Holmes stories I have ever read. If you can get your hands on this, I strongly recommend it, which is why I give this an awesometastic five out of five evil brains.

#46: John Dies at the End - David Wong (2009, 469 pages)

If I could sum up this book in one sentence, it would be as follows: This book is what H.P. Lovecraft's night terrors must have looked like.

David Wong, the protagonist of the tale, presents an absolutely out-of-this-world look at his life. He and his best friend John routinely fight ghosts and demons, see people randomly explode and are trying like hell to save the world from Korrok, a beast that is trying to invade Earth.

The book is similar to Trey Hamburger's Ghosts/Aliens in that is is kind of all over the place, giving readers crazy stories and situations but in an absolutely humorous way. I wasn't sure how I would wind up liking this book, especially because I had no idea where the heck it was going or what was going to happen. And that really worked. I found myself wanting to read on just so I could have the answer to my persistent WTF? I can hardly describe it, but I will encourage you to give it a read. That's why it gets a head scratching three and a half out of five floating dogs.

#47: Just Take My Heart - Mary Higgins Clark (2009, 322 pages)

In her elebenty billionth tale of a woman being stalked by an unknown foe, Mary Higgins Clark tries to shake up her process a bit. 

After award-winning actress Natalie Raines is found murdered in her home, prosecutor Emily Wallace must prosecute Raines estranged husband, Gregg Aldrich, for the crime. What Wallace doesn't know is that Raines knew her killer; she had suspected the man of murdering her roommate years earlier. The other thing Wallace doesn't know is that she's living next door to a serial killer, who has his sights set on her.

While Higgins Clark tries to shake up her tale a little bit by having the trail be the major focus of the story, the mystery isn't all that much of a mystery. I guessed the killer within the first two or three chapters, even though he's a minor character. Unfortunately, the guessing is easy, as Higgins Clark is using the same formula. I loved her books years ago, but here lately, they've become some predictable that they're no longer as entertaining. It's quite unfortunate, which is why I give this book a sad two out of five overplayed storylines.

Total Books Read: 47 / 50 (94 percent)
Total Pages Read: 17,599 / 15,000 (117 percent)
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    exhausted exhausted

made it with only hours to spare!

49. Swamplandia! - (12/29) - Karen Russell 336p

Review behind the link

50. In the Lake of the Woods - (12/31) - Tim O'Brien 321p

O'Brien is really a great writer. This is now my 4th book of his, and for some reason every time I expect some big Vietnam war thing, and every time I pleasantly surprised. He writes about people and relationships, and if those people and relationships are in the context of Vietnam, I suppose it only makes them more beautiful.

This book is very cleverly constructed. It's historical fiction (and in fact won an historical fiction award) about the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, which I'm sort of embarrassed to say I knew nothing about. Though, I was only 5 when it happened, and I generally shy away from all things Vietnam. But this book mostly isn't about that, if that makes any sense. Maybe it's the aftermath of that and the impact on a participant. His relationships. Maybe it's just about a guy who happened to be there at the time.

It's a great book, and I highly recommend it as I do any of O'Brien's work. He's a master of language, and though this wasn't as stunning as The Things They Carried it's a really worthy read.

21. Alice I Have Been: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin - 5/5 stars

I don't often think about who inspired whom in literature. Being a writer myself, I know that we write what we know and to some degree, every character in a book is based on somebody real.

This a fictional take on Alice Liddell the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland. If you read the Wikipedia article on Alice Liddell, you have the gist of this story. It seems to me that it accurately reflects what is known about the events that took place.

I think we all know that there is some speculation about Carroll and pedophilia. That's never not going to be creepy in fiction, and it's creepy here just like every place else. That's not a spoiler, unless you don't know about the speculation then it is, but it's something you'll certainly figure out early on anyway. This is not to infer this book is another Lolita. It's not in any way. The relationship between Alice and Dodgson is an important, but small, part of the story. This is really about her life.

The writing is excellent, the story telling solid, the characters are great. I was really captivated.

The audio narration was terrific.

Definitely a good piece of historical fiction.

(I have a gigantic spoiler in my full review, which can be found here)

My top 10 of 2010:

In the order I read them

The End Of Alice - (2/28) - A.M. Homes 272p

The Things They Carried - (4/10) - Tim O'Brien 256p

A Gate at the Stairs - (5/7) - Lorrie Moore 336p

The Help - Kathryn Stockett 5/5 stars (audio)

Super Sad True Love Story - (6/6) - Gary Shteyngart - 352p

Gone with the Wind - (9/26) - Margaret Mitchell 860p

Little Bee - (9/30) - Chris Cleave 304p

Room - (10/9) - Emma Donoghue 336p

Lolita - (12/10) - Vladimir Nabokov 336p

Columbine - (12/19) - Dave Cullen 464p

I read a total of 50 books, listened to 21 on audio. My complete list can be found here

Castiel Smiles

No. 1 for 2011

Title: Vampire Academy
Author: Richelle Mead
Rating: 4/5
Book: 1/50 (2% completed)
Pages: 337 pgs
Total Pages: 337/15,000 pages (2.25% completed)
Version: Ebook
Next up: Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

I liked this book. It's nice to see the main characters being two strong females. I really am intereted in getting to know Christian better and I hope that he's around in the other books.

I was nervous when I started reading the series, hoping that it was not like the House of Night series and I'm happy to report that it isn't. While I found parts of the book dragged, the plot and characters were interesting and I look forward to reading more of the series.

xposted to 50bookchallenge, 15000pages and bookworm84

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Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

My last book read in 2010 was another Osprey: Men-At-Arms #459: The Varangian Guard 988 - 1453. There's good artwork and photos and solid prose to go with it. I'd call it useful for those interested in the history of the Near East, or of the Vikings.