Friday, January 27, 2012

09 of 2012: Unwind

Title: Unwind
Author: Neal Shusterman
Dates Read: 1/25-1/25/2012
Date Published: 2009
Pages: 352
Synopsis: In the future, children can be "retroactively aborted" between the ages of 13 and 18. This is done by "unwinding": dividing the children into all their parts for organ donation. This is the story of three kids sent for "unwinding" who escape into a hostile world.

Review: WHY COULDN'T I STOP READING THIS BOOK?! It grabbed me and sucked me in and wouldn't let me go. Thank goodness the kids had free read today, because it meant I could read too! I think that's the only thing that kept me from being up all night! Though I wouldn't suggest this for younger teens, it is thought provoking and not as anti-pro-lifers as I suspected it would be in the beginning; instead, it's anti-all-radicals who would use a political stance to cause murder and meyhem. Well written and with engaging characters, I really loved this book.

Stars: *****/5
Keywords: SF, YA, Drama

Thursday, January 26, 2012

08 of 2012: Pawn of Prophecy

Several years ago, while I was living in Florida, my brother lent me these books. Unfortunately, they were in AL and I was in FL, where I was also working one full time job, one part time job, and attending college courses in education. I never got the chance to read them.

HE reads them every year (or close to it) at Christmas, and my curiosity overcame me this year: I ordered the first book from Amazon. And now I'm totally hooked, and have to BUY them! And they're not on Kindle! OH CRUEL WORLD.

Title: Pawn of Prophecy
Author: David Eddings
Dates Read: 1/23-1/25/2012
Date Published: 1983
Pages: 272
Synopsis: Garion is a sensible boy who doesn't believe all the great legends of his world's past - until his entire life changes in an instant, and he begins to suspect he might be in a legend of his own.

Review: I have to wait until Saturday at the earliest for the rest of the books to arrive! *insert copious weeping* Eddings uses the simple fantasy storytelling style to perfection, creating engaging characters and asking a million questions that - delightfully AND frustratingly - have very few answers in this first novel of the series.

Stars: *****/5
Keywords: Fantasy, Adventure

07 of 2012: Caveat Emptor

Title: Caveat Emptor
Author: Ruth Downie
Dates Read: 1/17-1/23/2012
Date Published: January, 2012
Pages: 352 (but I prefer the audiobooks!)
Synopsis: Ah, Russo and Tilla, still being their wonderful selves, have returned to Brittania. With no work as a doctor in sight, Russo finds a job as an investigator.

Review: This is Downie's best mystery, but she doesn't lose her deft hand at presenting a fascinating Roman world, either. While I was disappointed that she once again separated Tilla and Russo for much of the book, they were nevertheless as charming as always. I bought this on my Kindle when it came out, but ended up listening to the audiobook, because Simon Vance's wry presentation is absolute perfection.

Stars: ****/5
Keywords: History, Mystery

06 of 2012: The People of Sparks

Title: The People of Sparks
Author: Jeanna DuPrau
Dates Read: Mid January
Date Published: 2005
Pages: 352
Synopsis: The people of Ember walk into the daylight to find they are not alone: there are scattered survivors, and the Emberites quickly learned how helpless they are to exist in this new world.

Review: Overall, this book was fairly dull. Though the last fourth had some action, a great deal of the book is taken up with the Emberites working and the people of Sparks resenting them, without any real action or drive to the novel. A section in which Lina leaves and travels to one of the old cities seems misplaced in the book. The most interesting bits are in finding out how the world destroyed itself in the first place, but even that is pretty generalized.

Stars: **/5
Keywords: Young Adult, SF

05 of 2012: The City of Ember

Title: The City of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Dates Read: Mid January
Date Published: August, 2008
Pages: 2008
Synopsis: Lina and Doon are teenagers on the cusp of adulthood. They are also part of a grand, and ultimately failing experiment to save the human race: the underground city of Ember. Now the city is dying, and no one seems to want to admit it.

Review: I think I would have adored this book if I'd read it as a kid, because I enjoyed it as an adult. Lina is an especially wonderful character, a strong female lead who doesn't need Doon to save her, but does a good bit of the saving herself! I saw the movie for this first, and it was strange to see how much simpler leaving Ember was in the book. That simplicity probably wouldn't have translated so well to the big screen, though!

Stars: ****/5
Keywords: Books: SF, Books: YA

Thursday, January 12, 2012

04 of 2012: My Name is Mary Sutter

Title: My Name is Mary Sutter
Author: Robin Oliveira
Dates Read: 1/7-1/10/2012
Date Published: March, 2011
Pages: 384
Synopsis: Mary Sutter is a midwife who wants to be a surgeon. After repeated rejections, she finds her chance in the horrors of the Civil War.

Review: This book was very uneven. The portions telling Mary's story were intriguing. Oliveira created a sassy and intelligent woman who stands against the horrors of war with bravery. However, about halfway through the book she begins delving into scenes without Mary, but with real historical figures. These chapters lost me, since they lacked the emotional resonance of the chapters with Mary. They dragged, and made me lose interest and skim through most of the second half of the book.

Stars: **/5 because of the uneven second half
Keywords: Books: Historical

Saturday, January 07, 2012

03 of 2012: City of Bones

Title: City of Bones
Author: Cassandra Clare
Dates Read: 1/4-1/6/2012
Date Published: March, 2007
Pages: 496
Synopsis: When Clary witnesses an unexpected murder, she finds herself drawn into a hidden world of Shadowhunters. Among them, she learns startling facts about her own family.

Review: Although not as intriguing to me as the Clockwork prequels, I still enjoyed the writing style and characterizations. She's obviously building to another love triangle, which is tiresome, but the characters, especially Clary, make up for it. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

Stars: ***/5
Keywords: Fantasy, Young Adult

Thursday, January 05, 2012

02 of 2012: "For Want of a Nail"

Title: "For Want of a Nail"
Dates Read: 1/4/2012
Date Published: Mary Robinette Kowal
Pages: Not many! - a short story
Synopsis: A Hugo-nominated short story about life aboard a generation ship when one family's historic computer shows signs of damage.

Review: This was quite a good short story, well executed. It does have the sort of "unfinished" sense of many short stories, but it's well worth the read!

Stars: ***/5
Keywords: Science Fiction, Short Story

01 of 2012: Think Twice (Lisa Scottoline)

My first book of 2012 was a bargain book at Books-a-Million, and store which is quickly working to lose my patronage. They make someone escort you to the bathroom now, which is annoying when you have an impatient bladder. The cost of their Millionaire cards is also up to $20 now. Considering they're not good for bargain books, I didn't bother.

But that's beside the point! My first book of 2012 was a...disappointment.

Title: Think Twice
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Dates Read: 1/2/12-1/4/12
Date Published: March, 2010
Pages: 384
Synopsis: Bennie Rosato and her twin sister, Alice Connelly, only met as adults. Though they look exactly alike, the darkness in Alice sets them apart - until the day Alice buries Bennie alive, and Bennie discovers the darkness within herself.

Review: You'd think with someone being buried alive, this would be an exciting book, but it just . . . isn't. The story doesn't gain momentum for hundreds of pages, despite quick-fire switches of p.o.v. among Bennie, Alice, and Bennie's fellow lawyer Mary. The characters are one-dimensional and strange attempts at family drama in the Mary storyline draw away from what there is of the cliched main story. I finished this book out of pure, unadulterated stubbornness. I paid for the darn thing when money is tight, and I was gonna read it!

Stars: */5
Keywords: Mystery, Drama

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Books, 2011

I tried to keep a book journal this year, to list all the books I've read. I didn't list the books I read for grad school, but only the ones I read because I wanted to. My journal contains reviews (I believe my review for The Hunger Games was "WTH is the big deal here?!"), but this is just a list. I'm a person who doesn't finish books I don't care for, so I didn't include the handful of unfinished books, either. I didn't keep up properly with the book and had to play catch up, but I think it's all here!

F = Fantasy
YA = Young Adult
M = Mystery
SF = Science Fiction
B = Biography
GN = Graphic Novel
H = Horror
D = Drama, Historical

1. The Alchemist - Paulo Cochlo (F)
2. Adam - Ted Dekker (M)
3. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding - Agatha Christie (M)
4. The Bad Seed William March (H)
5. Before I Go to Sleep - S.J. Watson (H, M)
6. Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love - Chis Robersont and Shawn McManus (F, GN)
7. The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart (M)
8. Clockwork Angel - Cassandra Clare (F, YA)
9. Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare (F, YA)
10. The Cater Street Hangman - Anne Perry (M)
11. The Calling - Inger Ash Wolfe (H)
12. Callender Square - Anne Perry (M)
13. The Case is Closed - Patricia Wentworth (M)
14. Deadly Sanctuary - Sylvia Nobel (M)
15. The Death of Riley - Rhys Bowen M)
16. Outlander: The Exile - Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Nyuyen (F, GN)
17. Empress of Rome - Kate Quinn (D)
18. Endless Night - Agatha Christie (D, H)
19. Fool Moon - Jim Butcher (F, H, M)
20. Fable: Witches - Bill Willingham, et al (F, GN)
21. Fables: Rose Red - Bill Willingham, et al (F, GN)
22. Fables: Wolves - Bill Willingham, et al (F, GN)
23. Ghostbusters: The Other Side - Keith Champagne and Ton Nguyen (SF, GN)
24. Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth (M)
25. The Help - Katherine Stockett (D)
26. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (SF, YA)
27. The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson (H, M)
28. Half Broke Horses - Jeannette Walls (B)
29. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke (F, YA)
30. Ice Blue - Emma Jameson (M)
31. I Am Half Sick of Shadows Alan Bradley (M)
32. The Janus Gate Trilogy: Present Tense, Future Imperfect, Past Prologue - L.A. Graf (SF)
33. The Last Unicorn Graphic Novel - Peter Beagle and ?? (F, GN)
34. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County - Tiffany Baker (D)
35. Leviathan Scott Westerfield - (F, YA)
36. Behemoth Scott Westerfield - (F, YA)
37. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs (F, YA)
38. Mr. Popper's Penguins - Richard and Florence Atwater (YA)
39. Maus Art Speigalman - (B, GN)
40. Murder is Easy (Easy to Kill) - Agatha Christie (M)
41. Naughty in Nice - Rhys Bowen (M)
42. Nefertiti - Michelle Moran (D)
43. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro (SF, D)
44. Ooku Vol 1 - Fumi Yoshinaga (GN)
45. Ordeal By Innocence - Agatha Christie (M)
46. A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving (D)
47. A Red Herring Without Mustard - Alan Bradley (M)
48. The Red House Mystery - A.A. Milne (M)
49. Rosemary's Baby - Ira Levin (H)
50. Resuscitation - D.M. Annechino (H, M)
51. Storm Front - Jim Butcher (F, H, M)
52. Superman: The Last Stand of New Krypton (1 and 2) - Several! (SF, GN)
53. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley (M)
54. Smokin' Seventeen - Janet Evanovitch (M)
55. They Came to Baghdad - Agatha Christie (M)
56. The Tale of Despereaux - Kate DiCamillo and Timothy Ering (F, YA)
57. Terra Incognita - Ruth Downie (M)
58. Persona non Grata - Ruth Downie (M)
59. The Weed that Strangles the Hangman's Bag Alan Bradley (H)
60. 4:50 from Paddington - Agatha Christie (M)
61. Hercule Poirot's Christmas - Agatha Christie (M)
62. The Mystery of the Blue Train - Agatha Christie (M)
63. Crooked House - Agatha Christie (M)
64. Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century - Various (SF, GN, YA)
65. Women Heroes of World War II - Kathryn Atwood (B)

Most Read Author: Agatha Christie (last year she tied with my beloved P.G. Wodehouse, but I'm running out of his books to read!)

Best of the Year: I adored the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley, beginning with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Other faves were The Alchemist, The Calling, The Tale of Despereaux, Leviathan, The Help, and Crooked House.

Worst of the Year: I absolutely did not care for The Hunger Games, though I read the entire first book. Smokin' Seventeen was unreadably bad, and the main character was made into a complete slut in this novel. The worst Christie novel I've ever read is Endless Night. Some books I didn't finish so they didn't make the list include The Sherlockian by Graham Moore, Whose Body (Lord Peter Wimsey) by Dorothy Sayers, Metagame by Sam Landstrom, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, among others.

For the first time in years, I have comic book subscriptions. I've been reading the new unbooted Legion of Super-heroes, Legion Lost (though it's not very good), Ghostbusters, and Star Trek and the Legion of Super-Heroes (squee!).