Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recap

I read 113 books in 2010!

Since I'm an accountant, here is my year in a nutshell by the numbers:

Challenges completed: 12
Ongoing challenge: 1 (Georgette Heyer)

Books read for my in person book club: 12
Books read for my online book club: 5

5 star books: 13
4 star books: 58
3 star books: 30
2 star books: 9
Unrated: 3

Books I purchased: 36
Books from publishers/publicists: 10
Books that were gifts: 4
Books from the library: 32
Books from BookMooch: 23
Books I borrowed: 8

Adult books: 50
YA books: 36
Middle grade: 20
Juvenile: 7

Nonfiction: 14

My favorite 13 books are starred:
Tomorrow I'll post about my goals for next year.
Happy New Year!

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    Wishin' and Hopin'

    O Dio Mio:a Christmas StoryWishin' and Hopin': A Christmas Story by Wally Lamb

    On the library stacks: Adult fiction

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    My husband gets me a Christmas book every year. I flew to California the day after Christmas and this book fit the bill for a long flight perfectly.

    Felix Funicello is a 5th grader, growing up during the 1960s attending Catholic school. His dad owns a diner where they employ a bawdy cook named Chino and they have lots of posters of their famous 3rd cousin Annette on the walls. Felix's mother is going to be on TV for the Pillsbury Bake Off and Felix himself has a TV appearance coming up on Ranger Andy.

    Added to all of that, Felix's teacher Sister Dymphna has a breakdown when Felix awakes an unsuspecting bat in their classroom. And everyone gets a surprise when their replacement is a lay teacher named Madame Marguerite who speaks French and wears a beret, heels, and tight sweaters. She organizes a tableau vivant for the school Christmas program which has long-reaching consequences for Felix, his family, and the whole school.

    There is lots of gross humor in this book dealing with Felix learning about the facts of life. Generally, I would say this book might be enjoyed more by men, but I did find it to be satisfying and amusing nonetheless. It reminded me of something Bill Bryson might write about his growing up years, but this fictional account has some fantastical charm to it.

    Also reviewed by: Silly Little Mischief ~ Novels Now ~ Thoughts of Joy... ~ Peeking Between the Pages ~ Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? ~ Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings ~ A Bookworm's World ~ A Book a Day ~ Bermudaonion's Weblog ~ Booking Mama ~ Your link here?

    Source: Gift

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    In the Dark Streets Shineth

    In the Dark Streets ShinethIn the Dark Streets Shineth by David McCullough

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    In 2009, renowned author David McCullough joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas broadcast and recounted the meeting of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill on Christmas Eve in 1941. This book puts his words in print with beautiful pictures of the actual events. Also included is a history of the songs "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas."

    This book includes a DVD of the broadcast which has been shown on PBS this Christmas season.

    This is an inspiring book that lovers of history will especially like. I enjoyed thinking about the importance of remembering to take time to "arm our hearts" when life seems perilous. Wise words from wise men of Christmases past.

    Source: Gift

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    The View from Saturday

    The View From Saturday (Newbery Medal Book)The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

    AR Reading Level: 5.9
    On the library stacks: Children's fiction
    Awards: SLJ Best Book; Newbery Medal; State Award; ALA Notable/Best Books
    Recommended for: Grades 4+

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This is the story of four sixth-graders who become unlikely friends. During the summer, Noah goes to Florida to visit his grandparents and he ends up as the best man at the wedding of Nadia's grandfather and Ethan's grandmother. Despite their connections, they are actually brought together by Julian, a boy from India who moves into town when his dad purchases a bed and breakfast. With the help of their teacher, a paraplegic named Mrs. Olinski, the four kids become a winning Academic Bowl team.

    This is a really charming story that explores themes of teamwork, change, forgiveness, bullying and perseverance. There are moments that are really funny and there are moments that are really heart-breaking. But I loved that the characters learned how to accept what they could not change and moved forward in positive ways that allowed for personal growth.

    As an added bonus, I loved the answers to the Bowl questions at the back of the book!

    Also reviewed by: Booking MamaSo Many Books, So Little Time

    Book 50 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge
    Source: Purchased

    Tuesday, December 14, 2010

    Gideon's Gift

    Gideon's GiftGideon's Gift by Karen Kingsbury

    On the library stacks: Adult fiction

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Gideon is an 8-year old girl fighting leukemia. Her family is very poor and they cannot afford the transplant she needs to save her life. But Gideon is a selfless child, who only wants a Christmas miracle for someone else.

    Earl is a 50-year old man, living on the streets of Portland. A tragedy involving his wife and daughter have driven him to wander alone, hoping for death. But at the ministry where Earl often gets a hot meal, he meets Gideon. And through the Christmas miracle Gideon prayed for, they impact each other's lives for the better.

    This is a sweet Christmas story. It's a nice quick read this busy time of year. Unfortunately, I thought the story was written in a way that "tells" more than "shows." Right from the start the reader knows how it all turns out. But it's a good reminder about the reason for the season.

    Source: Library

    Saturday, December 11, 2010

    Monsters of Men

    Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, #3)Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

    AR Reading Level: 5.6
    On the library stacks: YA Fiction
    Series: Book 3 of 3 (Chaos Walking)
    Recommended for: 14+

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This is the final book in a dystopian YA series set on a planet inhabited both by humans and natives called Spackle. (Read my reviews of the first two books here and here.)

    In this book, the humans and the Spackle have their final showdown. War is inevitable, but there is a chance for eventual peace if the humans can figure out how to stop all the infighting. This is a book about how power corrupts, about how the accessibility of information can be both a blessing and a curse, and about how we should not just tolerate others, but to truly listen and understand.

    Like the other books in this series, this book is violent and tough to read. But there is lots to chew on with interesting parallels to our own world. I do think this book was a little drawn out and could have been tightened up with some better editing. But overall, this is satisfying conclusion to the series that was worth the library fine I incurred for returning it late!

    Also reviewed by:  Book Thoughts ~ Regular Rumination ~ Book Addiction ~ Becky's Book Reviews ~ At Home With Books ~ Bart's Bookshelf ~ things mean a lot ~ Tales of a Capricious Reader

    Book 50 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge
    Source: Library

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    After Ever After

    After Ever AfterAfter Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

    AR Reading Level: 5.2
    On the library stacks: Young adult fiction
    Series: Book 2 of 2
    Recommended for: Grades 7+

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Now it's Jeffrey's turn as an 8th grader! (He's the younger brother from Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie.) Like his older brother Steven, Jeffrey has a significant year as he develops a better relationship with his parents, faces academic challenges, experiences first love, and learns the true meaning of friendship.

    One neat thing about this book is that explores what it might be like to be a cancer survivor: How would classmates respond to you? How do you view the meaning of life? What is fair? There are ideas and questions put forth in this book that I don't think the average teen would normally think about. It's a book that I think has the potential to help teens really think about how they treat others without being preachy in any way.

    Steven's a bit of a loser/non-event in this book, which I was sad about. But I enjoyed watching Jeffrey grow. This wasn't as funny as the first book, and I really hate 'in-jokes' that disparage mothers. But I did like the use of emails and IMs which accurately portray a teen today.  It's a worthwhile book and I even shed a few tears at the end.

    Also reviewed by:  Bloggin' 'bout Books ~ Becky's Book Reviews ~ Ms. Yingling Reads ~ my thoughts exactly ~ Your link here?

     Book 49 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge
    Source: Library

    Friday, December 3, 2010

    Angel on the Square

    Angel on the SquareAngel on the Square by Gloria Whelan

    AR Reading Level: 5.6
    On the library stacks: Children's/Young Adult Fiction
    Series: Book 1 of 4 (Russian Saga)
    Recommended for: Grades 6+

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I see this book all the time when I am in B&N or Borders on the table of "Required School Reading" but I've never known anyone who has actually read it. The cover looked appropriately wintery so I decided to give it a try. I got a lot more than I bargained for since this is a novel of the last Tsar's family in Russia during WW1 and the Revolution, as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl at court.

    Katya Ivanova has grown up in the aristocracy of St. Petersburg. When Katya is 12-years old, her mother is chosen to the the lady-in-waiting for Empress Alexandra and Katya herself will be a playmate for the royal children. But Katya's cousin Misha has educated her to the changing mood in Russian society. The country is struggling and the Tsar turns a blind eye, especially when World War I begins.

    This is a riches to rags story, that ultimately ends with the execution of the Romanov family. It's certainly a bleak period in history. It's a tough subject to tackle, especially for younger children. I felt the writing was clunky at times, particularly when it was heavy on the history and not so much on the story.

    I can see why this is a book used in schools as there is certainly a lot to talk about and the history is accurately portrayed. But ultimately I guess I wish that it had been written for an older audience who would understand more of the nuances, such as why Rasputin was so controversial or why the Bolsheviks were so feared.

    Also reviewed by: Through the Looking Glass Book ~ Your link here?

    Book 49 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge, Book 48 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge
    Source: I have no idea how this book came into my possession, so I guess I'll say I purchased it!