Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Reads of 2010

Fiction:

1. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver- This is a book everyone should read...I feel like it's a classic or will be.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith- A modern classic for good reason. A beautiful coming of age story.

3. Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross- Fantastic writing about the alleged female pope back in the 900s or so. I just loved it.

4. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver- Also a soon-to-be modern classic. Makes you think about religion, U.S., and what we're really contributing to the world to make it a better place for all. Beautiful.

5. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta- A beautiful story of how one girl is trying to fit in at an all-boys school, deal with her mother's mental illness and somehow maintain her own sanity. Marchetta is an amazing writer.

6. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley- How does someone break away from the emotional and verbal abuse of a father and find her own beauty? Heart-warming, sad, thoughtful all describe this amazing novel.

7. If I Stay by Gayle Forman- Such a beautiful and different novel. A fast read and one that really made go wow.

8. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon- A book about books! Mystery, intrigue, romance, death, it's all in here set in Spain. I was in Spain for a bit and it took me back there. Loved it.

9. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest- Steampunk and zombies. I couldn't have asked for more. Action and characters that I actually cared for. Great.

10. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James- James really made Charlotte and her family come alive. I learned so many things I didn't know before.

Honorable mention goes to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows- An epistolary novel and it was done tremendously. I really fell in love with the Guernsey Isles and want to visit some day.

Non-fiction

1. Death From the Skies by Phil Plait- Great book on how the Earth and the Universe will end some day when we're all really dead and recycled.

2. Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait- He clears up misconceptions about science and other space hoaxes. Really fascinating.

3. Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali- Beautiful story of her journey out of Islam and her fight for women's rights and the fight to also save herself.

4. The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan- Concise and readable talking about how important science and critical thinking are in our world today.

5. The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan- A collection of several of his lectures. Really informative. The man was a genius.

6. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd- Her journey out of her religion and into her own spirituality. Really amazing.

7. Game Change by John Heilemann- I loved all the tidbits Heilemann gathered about what went on behind the scenes with the major presidential candidates. Pretty scary, too....

Honorable mention goes to The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean- All about the stories behind all the elements on the periodic table. Great read.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Worst Reads of 2010

It's that time of year again...it's time to wrap up the year in reading and blogging. I didn't do a lot of blogging due to school and life and this year will probably be the same...but I am hoping by next year to get back into blogging...how I did it the first year. I love meeting new people through their blogs and I get so many exciting read ideas and lots of giveaways and information and balls and reading challenges....it's wonderful, but no time yet...sigh. I'll get to my year wrap up soon but before that I want to list the books that I really didn't like that much, that just didn't do it for me. Tomorrow I'll add my best reads of 2010 (keep in mind not all of the books were published in 2010 just what I read in 2010). Here they are in no particular order....

1. Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen: I didn't get around to reviewing this one on my blog...so no link. Predictable mystery with nothing truly exciting or thought-provoking.

2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: Not that it really was the worst read...but I was soooo disappointed in this book as the final one in the Hunger Games trilogy, so thus it goes on the worst list for me this year.

3. Betrayals by Lili St. Crow: Another one I never got around to reviewing on my blog...the first book was interesting so I thought I'd give this second in the series a try...disappointed again and probably will not be going back for more.

4. The Affinity Bridge by George Mann: I really wanted to like this one since I love me a good steampunk novel in Victorian England...sigh, really lackluster, no real character development, and cliche.

5. Hot Springs by Geoffrey Becker: I won this book and it looked interesting. The writing was good, but I just didn't resonate with the characters or the story.

6. Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale by Donna Jo Napoli: I read this for book club. A great folklore that wasn't done with the panache I was hoping for. The topic was pretty heavy and I just don't think the author handled it well as a young adult novel. Just meh.

7. Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford: I really had high hopes for this one. I thought it was going to be a really fun Austen-in-modern-times parody. It was just meh. Jane was a bit too fickle for me in this one. The vampire story just fell flat.

8. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater: Just didn't resonate with me. All the characters were pretty annoying and why do they have to get rid of the parents????

9. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson: Why oh why did she have to ruin the ending with an epilogue? Great story otherwise but the ending ruined it all for me.

10. According to Jane by Marilyn Brant: Another book I had high hope for. Great cover, austen-inspired, romance. It had all the ingredients! I am not fond of books where the heroine pines away for a total jerk for years and years and then he finally realizes he loves her but he's still a jerk, no real redeeming quality! Dumb, dumb, dumb. Worst read of the year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Genre: young adult
FTC Disclosure: received via Goodreads.com Swap
Published: 2010
Pages: 472
Content: PG-13 for language and teen drama.

Yeah, I loved this book. I read this in two days and it's over 400 pages. Kid? What kid for two days? Yeah, I'm terrible. But I couldn't put this one down. It was so unique and telling and interesting.

Samantha Kingston is pretty and popular and beeyotch with her three friends. They rule the school and everyone knows it. After a harrowing incident at a party, Sam and three friends lose control of the car...Sam soon finds herself repeating the same day over and over again. She learns new things each day, what's important, and starts to put the pieces together about why she's repeating this day and how she can break the cycle.

Each day is the same and yet completely different. Oliver really knows how to make the characters come alive. Even though Sam and her friends are so mean, you find out what really makes them tick and why they are who they are...we're all just human and trying to cope with life.

This is such an important novel for anyone to read. I hope it really resonates with teens and gets them thinking about why they act the way they do. I love books that make me think and this one does. Read it; it's that good.


Rating: 5/5 Stars

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

Genre: Steampunk, historical
FTC Disclosure: bought from Borders
Published: 2010
Pages: 400
Content: PG-13 for war and zombie violence.

One Line Review: This one wasn't as wonderful as the original Boneshaker, but it was still fun.

Priest links the two novels together at the end, which was fun to see some of the original characters.

Mercy Lynch is a nurse in the South during the Civil War and receives a telegram telling her to come and see her long-lost father before he passes. So she takes passage on a dirigible and soon a train bound for the West...along the way she meets quite the characters and zombies! Will she survive and make it to see her father? Well, I'm sure you can guess that but it's about the journey!

Mercy was a fun heroine. She is tough and smart and quick on her feet and yet still has her weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Priest always paints a wonderful alternative history here in the States. The Civil War is going on forever and Texas is its own country.

Overall a great addition to the series!



Rating: 4/5

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Booty From the Pemberley Ball!!!!

Lady Vee was so generous to provide me with some booty from the Pemberley Ball! The Darcy Surprise Pack, indeed!!!!

Jane Austen necklace got cut off...sigh. It is beautiful!

I received the book The Phantom of Pemberley by Regina Jeffers, Pride and Prejudice Paper Dolls, a Starbucks coffee sample and dark chocolate bar (yummy)!, two Jane Austenesque pages and cards! And a beautiful Jane Austen necklace! This was more than I could have hoped for! Thank you, Lady Vee.

My fondest regards,
Lady Godiva

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Persnickety Snark's Top 100 YA Novels

I got this list via Misty over at Book Rat, so thanks to Misty for providing the link to the list and for Persnickety Snark for analyzing the data for the list!

I've bolded the ones I've actually read and/or I own and will be read soon. There are lots I haven't even heard and look forward to acquainting myself with these. I also am a bit disappointed in a few of the choices on the list...

What ones have you read? Which ones are a disappointment? What do you recommend I should read next on the list? What one/ones should be on the list?

Persnickety Snark's Top 100 YA Novels for 2010


  1. The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins (great dystopia series)
  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J.K. Rowling (another must-read series!)
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee (a true classic for all)
  1. Speak
Laurie Halse Anderson (a much needed discussion about rape)
  1. Northern Lights
Philip Pullman (very interesting story...only read the first book, though)
  1. The Truth About Forever
Sarah Dessen
  1. The Book Thief
Markus Zusak (excellent book about books and Death is the narrator!)
  1. The Outsiders
S.E. Hinton
  1. Twilight
Stephenie Meyer (brain candy and then blah)
  1. This Lullaby
Sarah Dessen
  1. Looking for Alaska
John Green
  1. Just Listen
Sarah Dessen
  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
J.K. Rowling
  1. Little Women
Louisa May Alcott (The March sisters are wonderful!)
  1. City of Bones
Cassandra Clare (bought it from a seconhand store but haven't gotten around to it yet...)
  1. On the Jellicoe Road
Melina Marchetta
  1. The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger (I've heard great things, still on the shelf)
  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling
  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
  1. Along for the Ride
Sarah Dessen
  1. Shiver
Maggie Stiefvater (Interesting werewolf mythology...nothing special, though.)
  1. Vampire Academy
Richelle Mead
  1. Graceling
Kristin Cashore (Excellent female character and story!)
  1. Thirteen Reasons Why
Jay Asher
  1. Sloppy Firsts
Megan McCafferty
  1. The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien (Wonderful story but a bit wordy throughout)
  1. Alanna: The First Adventure
Tamora Pierce
  1. Ender's Game
Orson Scott Card (Just really interesting, worth a read)
  1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
J.K. Rowling
  1. Uglies
Scott Westerfeld (OK)
  1. A Great and Terrible Beauty
Libba Bray
  1. Tomorrow, When the War Began
John Marsden
  1. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
E. Lockhart
  1. Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen (My fave Austen)
  1. The Westing Game
Ellen Raskin
  1. Paper Towns
John Green
  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
J.K. Rowling
  1. Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins
  1. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
Betty Smith (Beautiful coming-of-age story)
  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Sherman Alexie
  1. Lock and Key
Sarah Dessen
  1. The Amber Spyglass
Philip Pullman
  1. Evernight
Claudia Gray (Better than the usual vamp story)
  1. Sabriel
Garth Nix
  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
J.K. Rowling
  1. Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl (Looking forward to this series)
  1. Forever
Judy Blume
  1. I Capture the Castle
Dodie Smith
  1. Ella Enchanted
Gail Carson Levine (I've heard the movie is better--I love the movie)
  1. The Princess Diaries
Meg Cabot
  1. Stargirl
Jerry Spinelli
  1. Howl's Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones (been sitting on my shelf since I saw the movie...)
  1. The Dark is Rising
Susan Cooper (movie horrible but hear book is good)
  1. Hush, Hush
Becca Fitzpatrick (Torn...want to read but have heard it's not so great)
  1. Saving Francesca
Melina Marchetta (One of my fave reads for 2010)
  1. Second Helpings
Megan McCafferty
  1. Dreamland
Sarah Dessen
  1. Eclipse
Stephenie Meyer (More blah)
  1. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Rachel Cohn, David Levithan (movie was fun)
  1. Fire
Kristin Cashore (it's beckoning me!)
  1. The Chocolate War
Robert Cormier
  1. Weetzie Bat
Francesca Lia Block
  1. The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank (classic)
  1. Looking for Alibrandi
Melina Marchetta
  1. How I Live Now
Meg Rosoff
  1. City of Glass
Cassandra Clare
  1. Keeping the Moon
Sarah Dessen
  1. Breaking Dawn
Stephenie Meyer
  1. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging
Louise Rennison
  1. If I Stay
Gayle Forman (Really enjoyable)
  1. The King of Attolia
Megan Whalen Turner
  1. Wintergirls
Laurie Halse Anderson
  1. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
Robin McKinley
  1. The Blue Sword
Robin McKinley
  1. Feed
M.T. Anderson
  1. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Ann Brashares (Cute movie, too)
  1. Go Ask Alice
Anonymous
  1. Wicked Lovely
Melissa Marr
  1. Lord of the Flies
William Golding
  1. Someone Like You
Sarah Dessen
  1. The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan (zombies and a moral!)
  1. Jacob Have I Loved
Katherine Paterson (very disappointing)
  1. The Knife of Never Letting Go
Patrick Ness
  1. Poison Study
Maria V. Snyder
  1. Shadow Kiss
Richelle Mead
  1. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
Avi
  1. An Abundance of Katherines
John Green
  1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Mark Haddon
  1. A Ring of Endless Light
Madeleine L'Engle
  1. Glass Houses
Rachel Caine (a bit put-out that the series is soooo long)
  1. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party
M.T. Anderson
  1. Walk Two Moons
Sharon Creech
  1. Whale Talk
Chris Crutcher
  1. Perfect Chemistry
Simone Elkeles
  1. Going Too Far
Jennifer Echols
  1. The Last Song
Nicholas Sparks
  1. Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver (Also beckoning me)
  1. Hatchet
Gary Paulsen (I might have read this as a kid...don't remember for sure, though)
  1. The Pigman
Paul Zindel
  1. The Hero and the Crown
Robin McKinley


Friday, December 3, 2010

Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox

Genre: teen fiction, fantasy
FTC Disclosure: bought from Amazon.com
Published: 2007
Pages: 464 
Content: PG

One line review: Fantastic writing but a rather odd ending.

Elizabeth Knox really has a knack for drawing you in and getting you excited about this world and its characters. I really enjoyed this one, overall, better than the first book. Events and plot moved along a lot faster this time around and I really enjoyed that. We learn more about the Place and why it appeared and how Laura and her family are connected. There's also an evil plot afoot from a someone in authority that needs to be dealt with. She also explores faith and unbelief and power and control. And I definitely was not expecting the ending. She had be guessing for quite awhile. Sometimes I would stop and think after a chapter and ponder what was really going on and make my own guesses.

But the ending!!! Yikes...we've got time travel, a time paradox and some slightly odd relationships going on in the end...really odd, actually...disturbingly so. I'm not sure why she had to write it like this. But I don't want to give it all away and may have already if you decide to read both books.

I loved the series. It was different and interesting. I cared about the characters; they were real, and the writing is just fantastic. But the ending was a huge disappointment. Others may feel differently, though. So go ahead and give it a try.

My review of Dreamhunter is here.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Genre: Modern classic
FTC Disclosure: bought from Target
Published: 1943
Pages: 430
Content: PG-13

One Line Summary: A beautiful coming-of-age story.

From Goodreads: The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience. 

I enjoyed reading about Francie and her journey with her family in Brooklyn. Even though our childhoods were completely different I still felt like I could identify with her struggles. I could see pieces of me growing up with siblings, the wants and longings of our childhood hearts.

It was amazing to find myself in her neighborhood, what it was like growing up in that era where everyone knows everyone, for good or bad. I loved how Francie loved to read and learn and was able to finally move forward on her dreams. I was also shown the deep love a child can have for her father even when he is less than perfect. Even though Francie's father was an alcoholic, he was still a loving father and enjoyed his children. There are many scenes in the book that really make you think about your worldview and to reexamine yourself accordingly. That's what a classic is supposed to do...entertain and make you think. This one does both in abundance.


Rating: 5/5

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

I'm grateful for my husband, my little boy, family, friends, love, knowledge, science, freedom, books, and the Internet! Hope everyone has a fabulous day here in the States and I hope everyone not officially celebrating has a fantastic day of love and hope!

Let's not forget about our dear turkey we're eating...poor little guy.
But may we eat together as friends!!!!
Cheers!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chronicle Books Haul-idays Giveaway!!!!


What a Haul!
*** Blogosphere Bookstore Giveaway ***

$500 in books for 1 blogger
and
$500 for 1 blogger’s reader
for a total of $1,000


Rules: If you are a blogger post about this giveaway and browse Chronicle Books's catalog and list your own set of books up to $500. If you don't have a blog and would still like to participate, just comment on someone else's blog that has a list of books and things you would like to have as well! Done, just like that.
 
Signup here and for the official rules

 Check out this video to wet your appetite!


Here is my haul of books!









Chuck Dugan is AWOL by Eric Chase Anderson (19.95)

Aesop's Fables by Russell Ash and Bernard Higton (19.95)

Ernie a Photographer's Memoir by Troy Mendoza (12.95)




Mini Goals Notepad by Mary Kate McDevitt (9.95)


Kittenwar Card Game By Fraser Lewry
and Tom Ryan (10.95)

The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams (17.99)

Scary Stories Illustrated by Barry Moser
Introduction by Peter Glassman (16.95)


Werewolves: An Illustrated Journal of Transformation by Paul Jessup
Illustrated by Allyson Haller (19.95)

Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay patel (29.95)

The Writer's Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the "Write" Side of Your Brain by Jamie Cat Callan (24.95)

Use This Book!: The Only Book You'll Ever Need by Melissa Heckscher (16.95)


Creature by Andrew Zuckerman (60.00)

1,001Ways to Live in the Moment by Barbara Kipfer (9.95)

If you decide to participate, I'd love for a link back to your list so I can see what you'd like as well!

Good luck!

I originally spotted this giveaway at vvb32 reads. Thanks, Velvet!

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