Rachel (aktakukac) Reads in 2015
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A picture I took in Leuven, Belgium, in 2009 of the Fonz Sapientiae, a statue of a student who fills his head with wisdom.
Hello and welcome to my 2015 thread! My name is Rachel, and I am a Youth Services Coordinator at a small-town library in Ohio. I'm originally from Michigan, and I also spent several years working in Europe. I'm happy to be where I am now, and still getting used to my job and new town. I usually lurk around on LT, but I hope to be more active on my own thread and on fellow 75ers threads this year.
I usually read historical fiction, YA and children's books, some non-fiction and memoirs, and anything that catches my eye. I'd like to read more of my own books in 2015, but that didn't work at all in 2014, so we'll see how it goes in the new year.
I always say I want to read more classics, but I never do. I have a few that I've been meaning to get to for years, so MAYBE this will be the year it happens. The Count of Monte Cristo and Middlemarch are at the top of that list. I would also like to continue reading the Maisie Dobbs series, and read some of the children's books I never read when I was a child.
I think I will keep my reading goals fairly simple for the time being, and update/adapt them in upcoming weeks.
1. The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
2. Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame
3. Minding the Manor: The Memoir of a 1930s English Kitchen Maid by Mollie Moran
4. Castles in the Air: The Restoration Adventures of Two Young Optimists and a Crumbling Old Mansion by Judy Corbett
5. Stone Cove Island by Suzanne Myers
6. After the Rain by Renee Carlino
7. The Unimaginable by Dina Silver
8. Breathe for Me by Rhonda Helms
9. The War with Grandpa by Robert Kimmel Smith
10. Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
11. Country Plot by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
12. I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
13. Remembrance by Theresa Breslin
14. The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark
15. The Number 7 by Jessica Lidh
16. Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova
17. The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
18. Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St. John Brown
19. Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers
20. The Outlaw Takes a Bride by Susan Page Davis
21. The Martian by Andy Weir
22. The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber
23. Bubbles Unbound by Sarah Strohmeyer
24. A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
25. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
26. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
27. Frost by Marianna Baer
28. Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish
29. An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
30. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
31. Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker
32. Ms. Rapscott's Girls by Elise Primavera
33. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
34. In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
35. Montana Actually by Fiona Lowe
36. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
37. Shivers!: The Pirate Who's Afraid of Everything by Annabeth Bondor-Stone
38. El Deafo by Cece Bell
39. The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
40. The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
41. Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan
42. Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge by Bob Raczka
43. The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein
44. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
45. The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase
46. At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
47. Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey
48. Confess by Colleen Hoover
49. Flock by Wendy Delsol
50. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
51. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
52. One Step too Far by Tina Seskis
53. Wreckage by Emily Bleeker
54. Little Peach by Peggy Kern
55. Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr
56. Greenglass House by Kate Milford
57. Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
58. See Me by Wendy Higgins
59. Dance of the Banished by Marsha Skrypuch
60. Diary of a Waitress: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Harvey Girl by Carolyn Meyer
61. The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson
62. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
63. Dangerous by Shannon Hale
64. Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
65. Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas
66. Displacement by Lucy Knisley
67. Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
68. The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan
69. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
70. The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
71. Play On by Michelle Smith
72. That's Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us by Erin Moore
73. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
74. A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
75. The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain
76. The Girl with the Glass Bird by Esme Kerr
77. Imperfectly Criminal by Mary Frame
78. Prairie Cooks: Glorified Rice, Three-Day Buns, and Other Reminiscences by Carrie Young
79. The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
80. Vango: Between Sky and Earth by Timothee de Fombelle
81. The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens
82. The Unmapped Sea by Maryrose Wood
83. My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
84. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
85. Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson
86. Prisoner 88 by Leah Pileggi
87. The Log Cabin Wedding by Ellen Howard
88. The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer
89. The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
90. Chasing River by K.A. Tucker
91. A Bride's Story, Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori
92. A Year Without Rain by Anne D. Love
93. Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
94. The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt: Letters from 1920s Farm Wives and the 111 Blocks They Inspired by Laurie Aaron Hird
95. The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks that Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird
96. Never Never by Colleen Hoover
97. Virgin River by Robyn Carr
98. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
99. The First Wife by Erica Spindler
100. Adrift by Paul Griffin
101. The Best Man by Kristan Higgins
102. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
103. The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp
104. The Mermaid's Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
105. A Bride's Story, Volume 2 by Kaoru Mori
106. If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
107. Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley
108. A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
109. The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes
110. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
111. Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore
112. Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt
113. Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
114. The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant
115. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
116. Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr
117. The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz
118. Wonder at the Edge of the World by Nicole Helget
119. Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
120. Never Never: Part Two by Colleen Hoover
121. Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis
122. The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller
123. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
124. Before We Were Strangers: A Love Story by Renee Carlino
125. The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
126. Consent by Nancy Ohlin
127. Whispering Rock by Robin Carr
128. Mrs. Sinclair's Suitcase by Louise Walters
129. Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker
130. The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
131. Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne
132. Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
133. A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
134. Evergreen Falls by Kimberley Freeman
135. Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
136. Icebreaker by Lian Tanner
137. Soundless by Richelle Mead
138. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
139. Reluctantly Married by Victorine E. Lieske
140. A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
141. Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich
142. Hired Bride by Noelle Adams
143. A Bride's Story, Volume 3 by Kaoru Mori
144. Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko
145. Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter
Book # 1: The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
This was the January selection for a family book discussion I run at work. Due to the weather, a change in 4-H meetings, and some other factors, none of the families attended, but at least I liked the book! The Birchbark House, the first book in a series, is about a young Ojibwa girl and a year in her life. The book is divided into four sections, one for each of the seasons, and shows what life was like on Madeline Island in Lake Superior in the mid-19th Century.
It took me a while to get into the story, but once I did, I was glad it was selected for the book club. It would be a good read for 4th-6th graders or anyone interested in what life was like for Native Americans in the upper Midwest in the 1840s.
I hope to read The Birchbark House this year, too. One of the teachers at my school read it aloud this fall, and the copy I bought for the library has been popular ever since. I love when kids want to reread a book they've enjoyed!
>10 AMQS: I think you'll enjoy it, Anne! I remember several of my teachers reading aloud, and then I had to rush to the library to get a copy of whatever book they had read so I could read it myself! My parents bought me The Trumpet of the Swan and Charlotte's Web because they got tired of me constantly checking out/renewing them at the library!
Book # 2: Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame
I picked this book up because from reading the synopsis, I thought the main character would basically be a female Sheldon Cooper. I was right. Lucy London is a genius, and she received a doctorate in microbiology at the age of 20. She is very literal, to-the-point, doesn’t deal well with most people, and has hardly any social skills. She is in danger of losing a grant, and has to come up with a study dealing with emotions in order to keep her position at the university.
Lucy asks her neighbor, Jensen, to help with her research. A romance between them slowly develops, but it’s a unique and refreshing relationship. The other people Lucy gets to know, like Freya, also provide new friendships and help her enjoy life.
There were so many hysterical lines in this novel! Lucy is hilarious without even trying to be. While technically this book would be considered New Adult, it’s not like any other NA book I’ve read, and that’s a very good thing! There were a few steamier moments, but they were very well done. I think the novel could have used some more editing, changes in pacing at times, and more work on the ending. It was also somewhere around 180 pages - too short! That being said, I’m very glad I read it, and found it to be a charming and adorable start to a series.
Imperfect Chemistry sounds like fun, whatever its genre:)
>14 kgriffith: Hi, Kirsten! I am still behind in visiting threads, so you're not the only one!
Book # 3: Minding the Manor: The Memoir of a 1930s English Kitchen Maid by Mollie Moran
Published in the UK as Aprons and Silver Spoons
I saw Minding the Manor in a list of non-fiction titles about domestic service. The book surprised me because it was a lot more than the author reminiscing about her years as a scullery maid and cook. While she did describe her duties in the houses she worked at, Moran also included a lot of social history and commentary about what life was like in England in the 1930s. Information about changing attitudes, politics, the build-up to WWII, and other events was very easy to read and added to the memoir.
Each chapter also included a recipe and a hint for making household tasks easier. I think I will make the sausage rolls from her recipe, as they sound delicious!
I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in reading about servants, English life and culture in the 1930s, or who like easy-to-read memoirs.
Book # 4: Castles in the Air: The Restoration Adventures of Two Young Optimists and a Crumbling Old Mansion by Judy Corbett
If you've ever wanted to purchase a decrepit, run-down ruin of a manor house and fix it up, you should read this book. Judy and Peter found one in Wales, and managed to buy it. They were not rich, just history buffs in who were in love, and they had to find creative ways to fund their restoration projects. Their story contains everything from animal infestations to ghosts, floods, peacocks, and a lot of history. I wish that more pictures had been included, especially of work during the renovations. People interested in architecture, home improvements, and historical houses should enjoy this book.
Book # 5: Stone Cove Island by Suzanne Myers
After a hurricane severely damages an island, high school student Eliza discovers a handwritten note that brings an old crime to the surface. Nobody on the island wants to talk about the scandal, especially not her own parents, who seem to have been directly involved. Will Eliza be able to solve the mystery, and will there be consequences to her dredging up the past?
There was a lot of potential in this debut novel, but it didn't pan out for me. I expected more suspense, and then at the end it was a bit of a letdown. There were some parts of the story that were quite engrossing, but others dragged on and I wasn't disappointed when the book was finally over. Hopefully the author's writing will improve in the future.
HOW did January go by so quickly?! After being gone for more than a month, my assistant is finally back. She will be missing several days here and there to take her husband to appointments, meet with his surgeon for check ups, and do things like that, but it's a relief to have her around again. I have another coworker who is making things pretty miserable for me, but I'm trying to deal with that whole situation as best as I can. With all that going on, I only read seven books in January, but I have a ton more checked out and hope to get some better reading done in February, possibly including:
The Black Moth, since I've been wanting to read Georgette Heyer for ages
The Martian because I've seen so many glowing reviews for it and want to read science fiction for a change
The Count of Monte Cristo because I read about 20 pages a few years ago, and then life got in the way and I never picked it up again
Under the Egg for the family book discussion group meeting
Several others that I can't remember right now that have been sitting in piles for weeks
The final two books I read in January:
Book # 6: After the Rain by Renee Carlino
Avelina fell in love and married young, but an accident took everything away from her. She keeps to herself, and the years ahead of her look bleak, unless she can deal with her grief. Nate, a brilliant and promising surgeon, suddenly has an incident threaten his career and needs to get some perspective on his life. He meets Avelina at his uncle's ranch, and they might be able to help each other get through their problems and move on with their lives.
This was an emotional novel, and I while I picked it up basically for the setting (a ranch in Montana), I'm glad I read it.
Book # 7: The Unimaginable by Dina Silver
A young woman decides to go teach English in Thailand, and ends up sailing across the Indian Ocean where pirates are attacking vessels left and right.
Ugh. Has the author ever traveled abroad? Has she even been to Thailand? I don't like reading a book like this when the author has not even bothered to do research, and assumes life there is just like it is in the USA. The characters were also flat, predictable, and the whole story was poorly written. Save your time and skip this one!
Book # 8: Breathe for Me by Rhonda Helms
After reading the premise of this short book, I thought it had a lot of potential. But please, don't bother reading it! The characters were quite dull, the author stretched things in Isabel's past that I couldn't overlook, and then the ending happened, and it made me roll my eyes and sigh at the potential the story had that was completely lost. At least it was only 160 pages, and I have plenty of better books to read next.
Book # 9: The War with Grandpa by Robert Kimmel Smith
I first read this book back in the fourth or fifth grade. I was on a school reading team where we read about a dozen books, went to a designated place in the county, and competed against teams from other schools to answer questions about the books. The War with Grandpa was on one of the book lists, so I read it several times, and my mom really liked it too, so she'd help quiz me on it.
I haven't read the book in over 20 years, but I was thinking of possible reads for the family book club at work, so I decided to listen to the audio version the other day. I remembered certain parts of the story, but there were also sections that I had forgotten.
Peter's grandpa is going to come live with his family, and Peter loves his grandpa very much. There's just one problem: the only room that Grandpa can realistically stay in is Peter's bedroom, which is his favorite place. Peter decides to declare war on his grandpa, but will Grandpa surrender easily, or will he have some tricks up his own sleeves?
There wasn't much action in the story. At times it is funny, and at other times, deals with some more serious issues. I haven't decided if I will use it for work or not, but it was a nice reread and would be a nice read aloud for 3rd-5th grades.
Book # 10: Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
When her beloved grandfather unexpectedly dies, Theodora must figure out how to support herself, her unhealthy mother, and keep their 200-year-old house. Then Theo accidentally spills something on a painting, and she has a huge mystery to solve. With the help of her new friend Bodhi, she works to put the puzzle pieces together, which involve a Raphael masterpiece and artwork stolen during the Holocaust.
I'd recommend this book for students in 5th-7th grades, although adults, especially those who like art history, will enjoy the book as well. I read it for the family book club at work, and we did a video chat with the author via Skype at the meeting. She was excellent! She got on really well with the kids, answered their questions, asked them some of her own, and showed us some of the art she's researching and using for her next book. The kids thought it was so cool to be able to talk to an actual author. Who knows, maybe we'll try it again with other authors in the future.
Book # 11: Country Plot by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
I have had the author's Morland Dynasty books on my reading list for years, but have never picked them up. I have read a couple of her more recent contemporary fiction novels, and have been nice comfort reads for me. They aren't strenuous reads, and they really bring their English settings to life.
In Country Plot, it's a Lousy Monday when Jenna gets fired and discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her. Her family helps set her up with a working holiday - a distant relation needs help cataloging and organizing her large estate for sale. Jenna falls in love with Holtby House, and tries to come up with possible ways to save it from being sold. There are some people, however, who don't want Jenna to do that, and her life may be in danger. There's a predictable resolution in the end, as expected.
All in all, I enjoyed this novel, but a few parts could have been shortened and a bit more clear. I really should pick up the first Morland Dynasty book soon. Ahh, so many books to read...
Book # 12: I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
Skylar has just graduated from high school, and she wants the summer to go by quickly so she can start art classes in San Francisco. She lives in a tiny town in the middle-of-nowhere Central California, and if she doesn't leave to go to college, she know she will end up like most of her classmates: stuck there in poverty forever. She has a job at the motel in town, where Josh, a Marine who lost a leg in Afghanistan also works. Their friendship starts to turn into something more, but Josh has his own struggles (which include PTSD) that threaten to destroy their relationship. When Skylar's mother gets fired, things start to fall apart and Skylar has to decide what her future will hold.
This was very realistic fiction, and the characters were real and honest. The novel covers many themes, although at times, I almost thought there were too many. I do wish there was a bit more to the ending. If you are looking for a good contemporary fiction story, pick this one up.
Book # 13: Remembrance by Theresa Breslin
A YA novel that follows the experiences of five teens/young adults from two families during WWI. They are from a small village in Scotland and have quite a range of experiences and reactions to the Great War and the changes that take place as a result of it. There is a lot of character development, and the story spans four years. I expected to like it a bit more than I did, but I'd recommend this for anyone interested in WWI or those who like YA historical fiction.
Book # 14: The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark
A YA book about competitive figure skaters who have been skating partners and next door neighbors for years. There wasn't much to the plot, and I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again.
Book # 15: The Number 7 by Jessica Lidh
A unique YA novel where a teenage girl starts receiving phone calls from her dead grandmother...on an old-fashioned phone that is disconnected. The phone calls reveal part of her family's past in Sweden in WWII. There's more to the story than that, and this is one I'd recommend.
Book # 16: Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova
I read about half of this book, then set it aside for a few weeks, and when I picked it up and finished it, I remembered why I'd put it down in the first place. It had a lot of potential, but ended up a muddled mess. While the book promised mythology, music, mystery, and romance, I couldn't get past the one-dimensional characters, the going back-and-forth between the brothers, and in the end I still didn't know what had happened. This book will work for some readers, but it didn't for me.
Book # 17: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
I've been on a bit of a YA kick lately, and I'm trying to read more of the newly released YA books sooner rather than waiting months or years. As I was ordering books for work, there were several in my February and March orders that sounded great, so I made a list and this novel was on it.
Twylla is the human embodiment of a goddess, and that role requires her to have skin that is fatal to the touch. The Queen uses Twylla as her executioner, and since the Queen is easily angered, Twylla has killed more than a couple of people.
One of Twylla's new guards, Lief, knows the truth about her special ability. As they are forced to spend time together, they fall in love...oh, did I forget to mention that Twylla is betrothed to the Prince and they will rule the kingdom? What all will the Queen do to keep control of her kingdom? Will Twylla's decisions and actions be enough to stop the evil Queen and to take control of her future?
I haven't read the Shatter Me series or Graceling, which a speaker at a workshop I recently attended compared The Sin Eater's Daughter to. I don't read much fantasy, but I was pleasantly surprised with this book. A lot of things were predictable, but there were times when I was so surprised by what had happened I had to go back and reread to be sure I wasn't imagining things. I do wish there had been a little more history/explanations about a few things, but that's just me being picky. The book is probably more suited for older teens or adults. It was set up nicely for the next book in the series, which I will want to read.
Book # 18: Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St. John Brown
Zosia has to spend the summer before her freshman year of college in Japan, where her father took a new job. A guy she barely knows, Finn, is also staying there - his mom works with Zosia's dad, and so they end up hanging out a lot. They each have their own struggles and issues to overcome, as is expected in this type of book. It was a decent read, but I had some issues with the (lack of) chemistry between the two main characters, and I thought Finn was sort of underdeveloped, as parts of his story were lacking and could have been explained more.
Book # 19: Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers
The basic premise of this YA novel is sort of The Amazing Race meets National Treasure. The elderly matriarch of the insanely wealthy VanDemere Family has decided that her offspring and their children are lazy, worthless, and in no shape to become the owners of her business empire and riches. She organizes a competition that spans several countries, consists of a variety of physical and mental challenges, and will result in one family member being declared the winner.
Through no fault of her own, seventeen-year-old Avery is the black sheet of the family. She quickly learns something about her past that gives her the drive to win the competition. Family secrets are uncovered, and the lengths Avery's family members will go to win start to become deadly. Avery's grandmother's lawyer helps her, and the lawyer's son Riley works with her to continue in the competition.
Avery must decide who to trust and how badly she wants to win.
It's been a couple of weeks since I finished this book, but as time passes, I'm realizing I enjoyed it a lot more than I did when I finished it. The author has written another book that sounds interesting, and I've put that on my reading list.
Book # 20: The Outlaw Takes a Bride by Susan Page Davis
A nice but predictable quick read. Johnny flees the ranch he is working at to escape being hanged for a murder that he didn't commit. He goes to his brother's ranch in Texas, only to discover his brother had been killed. For various reasons, he takes on his brother's identity. There's a problem, though: his brother had just proposed to a mail order bride, and she is on her way to the ranch.
There were things that happened in the story that I saw coming a mile away, but there were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing, too. Good for an afternoon of light reading.
Book # 21: The Martian by Andy Weir
I don't typically read much science fiction, so after reading all the wonderful reviews of this book, I decided to expand my reading horizons. I liked parts of it, but sometimes some of the science stuff was over my head. I am NOT a science person! Mark Watney's sense of humor was hilarious, and I liked how just when I was about fed up with technical terms and math on Mars, the book switched back to Earth and all the things going on there in regards to Watney's dilemma.
Not my favorite book of the year, but I enjoyed it and was glad to branch out from my regular reading comfort zones.
Book # 22: The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber
I wanted to read this book, first in a series, because of the setting, a fairly remote estate in Scotland. Lady Darby has to help solve a murder that took place on the grounds, and as she assists Sebastian Gage, we slowly learn more about her past.
The atmosphere, characters, and mystery were spot-on. Parts of the descriptions were sometimes a little gruesome for me...I DO NOT like sharp objects, stabbing, blood, etc. but it did add to the story. It took me a long time to pick up this book, but hopefully it won't take me as long to read the next stories in the series.
Book # 23: Bubbles Unbound by Sarah Strohmeyer
A coworker was talking about this series, so I decided to read the first book to see what it was all about. Definitely in the same vein as the Stephanie Plum books. It was funny and a bit dated. I am in no hurry to pick up the next book in the series.
Book # 24: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
A YA romance told from the viewpoints of 14 different characters, including a squirrel and a bench. I liked all the different perspectives, but was a bit tired of the two main characters and the story needed some action or something to help move it along.
Book # 25: Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
I've had this one sitting on my shelves for ages. I loved a couple of du Maurier's short story collections that I read several years ago. This one was not quite what I had expected, but yet it was. I have several more of her novels waiting to be read, and am looking forward to them.
Book # 26: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
I fall into the "I liked it, but it wasn't great and it didn't quite live up to its expectations" group when it comes to this book.
Book # 27: Frost by Marianna Baer
I wish the author would have stuck with one premise and theme instead of mixing and muddling so many different ones. Definitely a YA novel to skip.
Book # 28: Key to the Treasure by Peggy Parish
I read this book at least a dozen times when I was in 5th grade. I'm surprised by how much I remembered upon reading it again over 20 years later. I also didn't know that it is part of a series, but since they are quick reads, I may have to read them in the future. The dialogue and character's attitudes are very much a product of when the book was written - in the 1960s. I should have counted how many times Bill, Liza, and Jed say "Gee" or "Golly" :)
Book # 29: An Appetite for Violets by Martine Bailey
Biddy, a young under-cook must accompany Lady Carinna on a trip from England to Tuscany in the 1770s. Bailey's debut is filled with murder, mystery, lies, intrigue, romance, cooking, and travel. The chapters contain 18th Century recipes, Biddy's letters and journal entries, and occasionally the perspective of Lady Carinna's footman.
I thought the character of Biddy was well-developed, but did not feel the same about the other characters. Then at the end, something was revealed and I could not figure out why the author included that bit!
Overall, I liked the novel, but think other readers would get more out of it than I did.
Yeah, I think I will have to read some more of the mysteries in that series later this year...AFTER I get through May and June and part of July!
I'm so far behind on my thread, but some more of the books I read in April are:
Book # 30: How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
I had seen a lot of reviews of this one on people's threads, and I wanted an excuse to listen to David Tennant read an audiobook, so I gave this one a try. I should probably watch the movie at some point, to see how it compares to the book. I liked it, but am not feeling that motivated to read more in the series.
Book # 31: Becoming Rain by K.A. Tucker
I thought the second book in the Burying Water series was good, but not as good as the first. The connection between the two main characters was lacking, but the writing was well done and I enjoy New Adult books that are actually worth reading. I already put a hold on the third book, which comes out in July.
Book # 32: Ms. Rapscott's Girls by Elise Primavera
I recommend this one (I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Katherine Kellgren) for readers who like Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee, etc. It was a great read for young girls, but a little more character development would have been nice...perhaps that will happen in upcoming books in the series?
Book # 33: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
I read this when I was planning to do some Book Talks at the local middle school. Then the last day of school for the year got changed (less than a month before school ended, as a matter of fact), and the librarian at the school told me not to bother coming after all. So I read this book, which is set in Ohio in the not-too-distant future. Water has become scarce, and Lynn has a pond, which she will do anything to defend. But things happen that cause changes, and Lynn will have to deal with all of the consequences.
The author could have been writing about a very possible future, and the story definitely felt real. I can’t wash the dishes or pour a glass of water the same way now. And the ending! I did not see something there coming!
As soon as I finished reading this, I immediately began the sequel.
Book # 34: In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis
SLIGHT SPOILERS for Not a Drop to Drink
Lucy and Lynn decide to walk from Ohio to California when Lucy is forced out of their community. There have been rumors of fresh water there, and it would mean the prospect of a more “normal” life for Lucy. They face countless dangers and obstacles along the way, and eventually must make the most difficult decisions of their lives.
I liked this book just as much as the first one, although there was a part in the middle where I thought the author was attempting something very different from the rest of the story, and it didn’t work for me.
I also had to smile when Lucy and Lynn are almost at the Indiana border. They get to Fort Recovery, Ohio, which is described as “too big.” I’ve been there before to pick up some farm equipment, and I definitely wouldn’t consider it a large town!
Book # 35: Montana Actually by Fiona Lowe
The first book in a contemporary romance series. It was a nice, easy read, and it set up future books well. I think I enjoyed the variety of characters and the family dynamics the most, and will look for more in the series when I want to read something entertaining and light.
Book # 36: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
On the one hand, I liked this novel, in which a group of girls in Victorian England must cover up the fact that their headmistress and her brother have been poisoned. There were some interesting twists in the storyline, a variety of characters, a good dose of humor, and it was basically right up my alley. The audiobook narrator, Jayne Entwistle, was also fantastic.
However, it was hard to keep track of the girls. Each had an adjective/epithet attached to her name, which was constantly used throughout the entire book. I’m not sure who the target audience was, as sometimes it felt very YA and other times almost more of a tween/children’s novel.
I enjoyed the story, but it will not work for everyone.
Book # 37: Shivers! The Pirate Who’s Afraid of Everything by Annabeth Bondor-Stone
I read this hilarious children’s book prior to doing some classroom visits and Summer Reading talks at a local elementary school. I lost track of the number of times I laughed out loud while reading it, and it has been checked out several times since I told the students about it.
Shivers the Pirate is literally afraid of everything. His parents and older brother are perfect, frightening pirates, but they are kidnapped and need Shivers to rescue them. Margo, his friend, and Albee, his pet goldfish, set out with Shivers to save the day. But will that be possible, when Shivers is scared of everything?
The illustrations are wonderful and add to the story, and the book is great for reluctant readers, voracious readers, adults, or anyone!
Book # 38: El Deafo by Cece Bell
Another book I read prior to doing school visits and Summer Reading talks. I don’t usually read graphic novels, but I was pleased with this one. The book was also a Newbery Honor book this year, and it has been very popular at my library.
The author lost most of her hearing at a young age as a result of an illness. She used a special hearing aid while she was at school, which gave her a “superpower” in a way. As she grows up, she hopes to find a friend who will accept her for who she is. El Deafo deals with disabilities and differences in a way that children will be able to relate to. For me, the book was good, but not overly amazing.
Book # 39: The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer
I read this because I wanted to listen to Katherine Kellgren narrate something, and I was slightly curious about this children’s/tween series. I can see where it would appeal to some readers, and it’s something I would recommend for a good juvenile mystery. I don’t have much experience with Sherlock Holmes, which I should probably change, but as for now, I won’t be continuing with the series.
Book # 40: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
I expect this book will rank in the top five of my 2015 reads. Ada is a girl with a clubfoot, and her mother is so embarrassed and disgusted by it that she won’t allow Ada to leave their small apartment. Despite being abused by her mother, Ada manages to teach herself to “walk.” When children are evacuated from London to the countryside to be safer during WWII, Ada sneaks away to join her younger brother, Jamie, who has been sent away by their mother.
All the other children are selected by families, but Ada and Jamie are not picked. A woman named Susan is forced to take them, although she doesn’t want to. Over time, the three begin to form a new family, and Ada especially makes remarkable progress. However, there is still a war going on, so what will happen to them in the end?
On the one hand, Ada’s character, a disabled and unloved child, is nothing new in children’s literature. But, the characters are so well-drawn, the historical details are so accurate, and the story is so well written, it seems like the entire story is special. I can recommend the novel in print or audiobook. It’s in my Best of 2015, and it will leave a lasting impact on all its readers.
Book # 40: Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan
When I read this one, I had a lot going on at work and in real life. I wish I had been able to sit down and have some good, solid reading time to enjoy it – I think I would have liked it more. It has two storylines, each involving a pregnant woman at an old manor estate. In 1933, Alice finds herself pregnant and unmarried, and she goes to Firecombe Manor avoid a scandal and have her child. In 1898, Elizabeth lives there, emotionally unstable after having two miscarriages and failing to produce her husband’s desired male heir. Alice finds Elizabeth’s diary and attempts to learn more about her. The two narratives join together, although I feel that could have been done differently for a better outcome.
The author’s descriptions of the house and estate were very descriptive and I think that is one of the parts of the novel that I enjoyed the most. Anyone who likes gothic stories, atmospheric writing, and dual narratives should enjoy reading Firecombe Manor.
Book # 42: Presidential Misadventures: Poems That Poke Fun at the Man in Charge by Bob Raczka
Short poems and riddles about each President. There were a few new bits of information or unusual facts, and the poems/ clerihews were aimed more for adults than children.
Book # 43: The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein
I have had Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library on my to-read list for ages, and have only heard rave reviews about it, so I was really looking forward to this one. It started out fairly well, but fizzled out and was quite a disappointment. I do need to pick up Mr. Lemoncello’s Library sometimes, to compare…
More books I read in May:
Book # 44: A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
Any time a new Susanna Kearsley book is published, I want to instantly gobble it up. Then I’m stuck waiting for her to finish writing the next one! All of her novels blend the past and the present, and I get caught up in both storylines. A Desperate Fortune was no exception.
Sara, a young woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, is hired to decode a cipher in a diary that was written in the 18th century. The diary was written by Mary, a half-French, half-Scottish woman living in France. As Sara discovers more of Mary’s exciting story, she must also learn to deal with new relationships. While A Desperate Fortune does not have the time travel or paranormal qualities that Kearsley’s other novels have, it is still a well-written, engrossing novel that will please Ms. Kearsley’s many fans.
Book # 45: The One that Got Away by Bethany Chase
Mediocre chick lit with hardly tolerable characters and cheating galore. There were a few sections that stood out, but they did not make up for the rest of the book. Not for me, but not the worst book out there and it will be someone’s cup of tea.
Book # 46: At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
I read Water for Elephants years ago, but after some of the buzz around it had died down. I remember liking the story more than I thought I would, but not much about the author’s writing style. When I heard about her new book, I put an early hold on it because it had 1. Scotland and 2. The Loch Ness Monster.
My thoughts: the characters were whiny, immature, and I could not relate to them at all. I liked the setting and the larger plot points. For the most part, it didn’t even seem like WWII was happening while the other events were taking place. I probably could have skipped reading this, but it was still a decent read despite the fact that I kept reading just to find out the ending.
Book # 47: Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey
Final book in an inspirational fiction series about a group of outdoorsy, adventurous siblings in Alaska. This one involves the Iditarod sled dog race and environmental protests. The series was nice for some light reading and makes me wish I were athletic and lived in Alaska!
Book # 48: Confess by Colleen Hoover
Once I start reading one of Hoover’s books, I don’t stop reading until I finish the last page. She definitely writes some of the better “New Adult” books out there. If you read this genre and are interested in art, you should definitely pick up this one. Be prepared for some twists and unexpected turns along the way. I’m looking forward to my next Colleen Hoover book.
Book # 49: Flock by Wendy Delsol
This is the third book in the Stork Trilogy, and it has been too long since I read the first and second books. I remembered the characters, but not events that had taken place (especially in book two) and had a little trouble getting into this one. However, I still recommend the books for readers who like Norse (especially Icelandic) mythology and supernatural elements in YA fiction.
Book # 50: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
Looking for a YA romance that is definitely NOT your typical story? Interested in diverse characters, an uncommon (for YA lit) setting, and emphasis on cultural differences? Let me suggest Written in the Stars.
Naila is Pakistani-American, and lives in Florida. Her parents are very conservative, and have made it known to Naila that they will eventually choose a husband for her. After an incident involving a young man named Saif whom Naila is in love with, her parents decide it’s time to take Naila and her younger brother to Pakistan so they can visit family. The whole time she is there, Naila is ready to go back to the USA so she can start college. However, her parents have arranged for Naila to be married, immediately, to a man she does not love. Is there any chance Naila will be able to escape, and what will that mean for her relationship with Saif?
I did have a couple of issues with the novel, but I thought it was an excellent read and I learned a lot about a culture and country I am unfamiliar with.
Book # 51: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
I didn’t know about the movie (or book, for that matter) The Princess Bride until I was a freshman in college, and watched it for the first time my sophomore year. I immediately introduced it to my family, who all love it except for one of my brothers, and his opinion doesn’t matter because how can you not love that movie?!
There was no way I could not listen to the audio version of this memoir, since it was narrated by The Man in Black himself. One thing I really loved is how thankful Elwes was to have been a part of the Princess Bride film, and how he still thinks of the making of the film as one of the best times of his life.
A must for any fan of the movie, Cary Elwes, or anyone interested in the movie-making process.
Book # 52: One Step too Far by Tina Seskis
Emily, a woman who seems to have it all, changes everything one day when she gets on a train and goes to London and becomes someone else. As the reader wonders why she did this, flashbacks bring information to light that eventually explain Emily’s past, and what it will mean for her future.
I was expecting something else from this novel, and was slightly disappointed in it. If you enjoy women’s fiction, you should pick it up.
Book # 53: Wreckage by Emily Bleeker
A plane crashes on a deserted island. Some survive and are rescued; some don’t. Once they are found, the survivors become instantly famous and must be careful about their explanations to what happened to them. There are a lot of secrets…what will be revealed, and what will stay secret?
After a strong start, the story and characters fell apart for me about halfway through. However, I still kept reading and even though parts were predictable, I wanted to know how the author would end the book. I thought the ending was a bit too quick and neat. I could see this novel being a movie, and possibly a case where the movie could be better than the book.
Book # 54: Little Peach by Peggy Kern
A short YA novel that deals with child prostitution. It can be read in one sitting, even though the subject matter is so awful. Michelle runs away from her mother, who is addicted to drugs. She quickly and easily becomes caught up in child prostitution. I can appreciate the quality of writing, and the way the author built the world Michelle became a part of, but it is in no way an “enjoyable” book. Do not read this book when you need something happy and uplifting, and be prepared for the story to stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
Book # 55: Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr
I have been interested in Norway ever since I watched the 1994 Winter Olympics, and I had to read this lovely children’s book that celebrates friendship, family, and is simply charming.
Trille is a boy, and his best friend Lena is a girl. The two children get into all kinds of situations in their Norwegian village. I learned quite a bit about Norway and Norwegian culture as well. I remember laughing out loud several times, and this would be a great read aloud for an elementary classroom or a family. This is one I will read again.
Book # 56: Greenglass House by Kate Milford
This book, geared towards upper-elementary/tween readers, will also appeal to adults. Milo, a boy who was adopted, lives in a huge house that is an inn. It’s almost Christmas, and the inn has a surprisingly large number of guests. As they become snowbound, Milo begins to put clues together about the guests, the history of the house, and his own past.
Book # 57: Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
What a nice cover!
Unfortunately, the cover is the best thing about this book.
It’s supposed to be a thriller about revenge, and it was, but the characters, storyline, and “romance” between two of the main characters were so absurd and unbelievable.
Frances was on a luxury yacht when she was 14 years old. The ship was attacked by gunmen, and only Frances, her friend Libby, and a Senator and his son Grey (who Frances happens to be absolutely in love with after knowing him for two whole weeks) are the only ones who escape. Frances and Libby escape on a lifeboat, and after days alone at sea, Libby dies just before being rescued. However, after recovering, Frances learns that the Senator and his son are telling the media that a rogue wave attacked the yacht, causing the deaths of everyone else on board.
Fast forward a few years. Frances has taken Libby’s identity, and is set on revenge and finding out the truth. Of course, she is in love with Grey (because of course she is sooooo in love with someone involved in her parents death, especially after knowing him for 14 days when she was 14 years old).
I could not make myself believe Frances/Libby throughout the story. The author did a lot more telling instead of showing, and while parts of the story were intriguing enough to keep me interested in actually reading the entire novel, the fact that it could be read in just a few hours helped motivate me to finish it. I did not see one event towards the end coming (which was a good surprise), and I can see some teenage readers liking it. For me, this was definitely a case of being extremely disappointed in what could have been an exciting novel.
Book # 58: See Me by Wendy Higgins
Not the best book I will read this year, but something cute that combines leprechauns, fairies, mythology, and YA romance.
It was better than my previous read, but I don’t feel the need to pick up another book with leprechauns or fairies any time soon.
Book # 59: Dance of the Banished by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Historical fiction based on true events in Turkey during the Armenian Genocide and how Alevi Kurds were treated during that time period. Teenager Ali wants to marry Zeynep, but first he wants to go to Canada to work and earn enough to support a life together. While in Canada, he becomes an enemy alien when WWI breaks out, loses his job, and is sent to the Kapuskasing Internment Camp in northern Ontario. Zeynep stays in Anatolia, but leaves their village for a city where she witnesses the turmoil and horrors of the Armenian genocide. She wants to escape and find Ali, but before she can do that, she must help save her friends and herself from becoming victims of war.
Before I read this book, I knew nothing about the Alevi Kurds and not much about the Armenian Genocide. A long time ago, I read The Road from Home that introduced the events to me and I have never forgotten that book.
I thought Dance of the Banished was very well-researched and written, and it covered so many things that I knew nothing about. I’m sure other readers will feel the same way. That being said, I wish the author had explained some things about the Alevi Kurds and many of the historical events in more detail during the novel, or had the Author’s Note at the start of the novel, not the end.
I definitely recommend this book to historical fiction readers who like reading and learning about times and places that aren’t typically written about. It would be an interesting supplement for a World History/WWI unit and prompts a lot of thought-provoking questions.
Book # 60: Diary of a Waitress: The Not-So-Glamorous Life of a Harvey Girl by Carolyn Meyer
This was a wonderful book for me! I had heard of the Harvey Girls before, but this novel brought their training, work, and the American southwest to life. Kitty’s parents can’t afford to send both of their children to college, so they decide to pay the way for her brother. Kitty wants to be a journalist. She takes matters into her own hands, and after lying about her age, is hired to train as a waitress at for the Fred Harvey Company. She is sent, along with her new friends, to the small city of Belen, New Mexico, where they work hard to provide a full meal to entire train loads of passengers in under thirty minutes. They had to be respectable, educated, and were subject to strict discipline, but the girls managed to find time to explore their surrounds, have fun, and become acquainted with the townspeople and ranchers from the area.
I would have liked the story to have been set earlier during the Harvey House period. They started in the 1870s, but Kitty’s story takes place in 1926. Meyer’s historical details and research added to the novel and was definitely a strength. One of Kitty’s friends and coworkers, Cordelia, was a flapper, so that added some entertainment to the story. The ending was quite abrupt, however.
This was a novel that would be good for children/teens/adults who like a nice, clean story. It covers an unusual time in American history and I will definitely be reading more (especially non-fiction) about Harvey Houses and Harvey Girls. I’m not sure how much this would appeal to a lot of younger and teen readers, but I enjoyed it very much.
Book # 61: The Mirk and Midnight Hour by Jane Nickerson
This was unfortunately a case of the wrong book at the wrong time. One reason is I am not familiar with the ballad it is a retelling of, Tam Lin. It was a very slow-moving book, and also a long one.
Violet is dealing with the death of her brother, her father’s remarriage, and a new stepsister, and taking care of her young cousin in Mississippi during the Civil War. We don’t meet Thomas, a wounded Union soldier, until almost the halfway point in the book.
The novel was historical fiction with some supernatural elements thrown in here and there and then really piled on at the end. I got some of the characters mixed up, which didn’t help either.
I did enjoy the narrator of the audiobook, Dorothoy Dillingham Blue, and will look for more of her work in the future.
Book # 62: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Kate Middleton fan fiction. Fun, entertaining even though you know how everything will play out. I do wish it had been a bit shorter, and although the book covers a span of eight years, it did not feel like it to me. Nice for summer reading or for anyone who is slightly interested in or totally obsessed with the British Royal Family.
Book # 63: Dangerous by Shannon Hale
I read this one for work, and judging from the mix of reviews I had read, I knew I would either really like it or be pretty underwhelmed. The story itself, about a one-armed teenage girl who goes into space and must try to save the Earth or be destroyed in the process, was creative and would make a good movie.
However, Hale tried to fit too much into one novel. Dangerous could easily have been a trilogy or series. Teens at my library loved the book, but it was more sci-fi than I had expected, I struggled with the pacing, and felt like some of the characters were thrown in for no reason at all.
Definitely a good example of how a book can work for some readers but not for others.
Book # 64: Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lại
Mai is not happy when she is forced to go to Vietnam for the summer. She would rather spend her summer at the California beach, but instead she has to help her grandmother, who is trying to find out what happened to Mai’s grandfather during the Vietnam War. While she is in Vietnam, Mai has to balance two cultures while understanding her changing relationship with her grandmother.
I liked the story, but did not love it. Sometimes the pacing was too slow, and there were a couple of times when I was surprised by how the author chose to incorporate parts of the story. Mai is only 12 for goodness sake! Mai did get on my nerves at times, as well.
A good piece of children’s fiction that focuses on culture, family history, and language.
Book # 65: Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas
This was a fantastic read. In my opinion, everything Sandra Dallas writes is fantastic, whether it is historical fiction for adults, children, or non-fiction. This children’s novel is about a Japanese-American family and the time they spent at an internment camp in Colorado during WWII. It was well-researched and written, would be great for a classroom or family read aloud or a book discussion, and the audio version is enjoyable to listen to as well.
On a side note, the author’s next book, called The Last Midwife, comes out at the end of September, and I am number one on the waiting list for it :) Now if I can only be so lucky with Kate Morton’s new book, and a couple others I have my eye on for later this year…
Book # 66: Displacement by Lucy Knisley
I have read several of Knisley’s other graphic novels. I’ve enjoyed some of them, and some weren’t my cup of tea. In this one, Knisley describes her experiences while on a cruise she took with her elderly grandparents, during which she was their caregiver. She reads her grandfather’s WWII memoir and contemplates mortality. As can be expected, there was more emotional depth than in her food-based graphic novels.
Book # 67: Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
I saw this book mentioned on several LT threads, and I am so glad I read it! It’s another example of discovering wonderful books on LT! From the moment I finished the first chapter, I knew this would be a book I will recommend to people and read again.
The author remembers her years growing up in a Norwegian-American household in San Francisco in the early 20th Century. I loved the various relatives, neighbors, boarders, and friends as well as Mama, Papa, and the siblings.
I also recently watched the 1948 film, which is based on a play which was adapted from the book. I even cried a bit at the end.
Thanks to the many readers on LT who reviewed, commented on, and recommended this gem!
Book # 68: The Detective’s Assistant by Kate Hannigan
This novel intrigued me from the moment I saw it in a catalog I was looking through to order books for at work. I had never heard of Kate Warne before, but after reading this children’s historical fiction, I am interested in learning more.
Kate Warne was the first female detective in the USA, and she worked for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. In Hannigan’s novel, Nell Warne (Kate’s fictional niece) is orphaned and is sent to live with her aunt. Although Kate believes Nell will be a hindrance, she doesn’t have the heart to put her in an orphanage, and the two are soon working together on cases. The Underground Railroad, abolitionists, and Abraham Lincoln are all important throughout the story.
I loved both Nell and Kate’s characters, the historical descriptions, and Hannigan’s writing style. Recommended, especially for tweens and readers looking for strong female characters.
I did not listen to the audio version of this book, but it’s interesting and worth mentioning: the narrator is Christine Lakin, who Al on "Step By Step" on TGIF in the 1990s. I just did a quick search, and she has narrated a handful of other books in the last couple of years as well.
Book # 69: Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
Previously published with the title The Girl Savage.
A somewhat slow-paced story about a girl named Will (short for Wilhemina) who grew up in Zimbabwe and is sent to boarding school in England. Her mother died when she was young, and Will was raised by her father. She loved everything about Africa, and often spent long periods of time running wild in the bush. The boarding school, her new classmates, teachers, and culture are completely foreign to Will, and she is unable to adjust to her new life. Eventually, she finds a way to deal with her situation.
Some parts of the book flowed more easily than others. I’m not sure I cared for the ending, but I am glad I read this one, and will definitely be reading more by the author in the future.
Book # 70: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
Not my favorite book by the author, but I like everything she writes, so it was still a delightful read.
Set in post WWI England, a psychic named Ellie becomes involved with solving the murder of a former friend and fellow medium.
The plot is properly paced, the characters are well developed, and a spooky, suspenseful atmosphere draws readers in. I think a few parts of the ending were slightly far-fetched, but it did not put me off the story as a whole.
I will be eagerly awaiting the author’s next book!
Book # 71: Play On by Michelle Smith
A small town in the South, a star high school athlete, a home-schooled girl who has to tutor the athlete, depression, and more combine in a realistic, better-than-I-expected YA story. It could have been better, but overall there are a lot of topics covered in this book.
Book # 72: That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us by Erin Moore
A look at cultural differences between the English and Americans and how they influence certain words and phrases. I thought the short chapters were pretty quick and fun.
Book # 73: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
This is the book that I had just started last year when I got my new job, had a big move, and ended up doing hardly any reading for a few months. I finally picked it up again, and I think I had really built it up in my head and was expecting more from it. I liked it, I laughed throughout the book, and I still vividly recall certain parts (I read this a couple of months ago but am just now commenting about it), but it was a little different from what I had remembered reading…which was only about eight pages. Before I read it, I was ready to go out and read The Rosie Effect right away. Now, it’s on my list of eventual reads, but not something I’m rushing out to get my hands on immediately.
Book # 74: A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
Kelsey’s identical twin sister Michelle is killed in an automobile accident, but Kelsey can’t let Michelle’s boyfriend Peter know. Peter was deployed to Afghanistan, and when Kelsey finds him online, he thinks he is talking to Michelle. Because of his situation, Kelsey doesn’t want to tell him the truth, and naturally she develops feelings for him. What will happen if/when he learns who she really is?
While I enjoyed the premise, I wanted more from this story, and found some parts to be a bit too unrealistic.
Book # 75: The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain
What a lovely, delightful book to be my 75th read of the year!
Laurent, a bookseller in Paris, discovers a handbag in the street, and sets out to find its owner. There is a slight problem: while there are items in the handbag, there’s nothing to identify who the bag belongs to. Laurent will not be deterred, and the resulting story, while short, is intelligent, romantic, and oh-so French.
I want this to be a movie, and I want to read it again.
Book # 76: The Girl with the Glass Bird by Esme Kerr
A children's/tween book set in a boarding school. Edie, an orphan who can no stay with her grandmother, is sent to the school by another family member. While she is at the school, she is supposed to spy on a girl named Anastasia. Anastasia is being tormented by some of the other girls, and they are stealing her things. Edie and Anastasia uncover a plot, and in the end, there are quite a few surprises for everyone. The book is a little odd in that it's set in the present day, but the girls are not allowed cell phones or things like that, and it has more of an old-fashioned feel. It also touches on mental illness and instability.
Book # 77: Imperfectly Criminal by Mary Frame
I did not like this one as much as Imperfect Chemistry.
Book # 78: Prairie Cooks: Glorified Rice, Three-Day Buns, and Other Reminiscences by Carrie Young
I've read Carrie Young's other books about her childhood, family history, and life on the Dakota plains, but I did not know this book existed and it was a fluke that I discovered it! I loved it! She included a lot of recipes, and I loved the stories she included that covered food, eating, cooking, etc. My favorite was when she described her mother cooking for the thrashers who would come to the area to help with the wheat and grain harvests. There weren't many women who were willing to put in the hours and work that was required to feed dozens of men around the clock. In the end, her mother was able to purchase a farm with her earnings. My own grandmothers cooked for harvesters on their farms, but on a much, MUCH smaller scale, and I couldn't imagine doing the work Young's mother did. I copied many of the recipes, and found one for icebox cookies that is almost identical to the recipe my grandmother had. A highly enjoyable memoir and cookbook, especially for those interested in Scandinavian-Americans or life in the Dakotas in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Book # 79: The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
YA novel that had a lot of potential, but fell short due in part to the female main character. Kate doesn't want to deal with having Type 1 Diabetes, and Aiden/Aidan, a young disabled veteran, had planned on having a career in the military. There were a lot of errors in this book that should have been edited. I wish parts of Aidan's story had been explored more. Overall, a disappointment.
Book # 80: Vango: Between Sky and Earth by Timothee de Fombelle
This is quite an exciting, epic adventure! Vango, accused of a crime he did not commit, travels across Europe by various methods to prove his innocence and learn more about his unusual past. I enjoyed that part of the story, but when it ended, I had a lot more questions than answers and did not really understand the character of Vango. I know there is a sequel, but I don't know if it will be part of a trilogy or series. The story is set between WWI and WWII, and should appeal to teens and adults who enjoy adventure, mystery, and historical fiction.
Book # 81: The Mountain Story by Lori Lassens
A group of people becomes stranded on a mountain, and not all of them survive. I thought the story was good, not great. In my opinion, a lot of the wilderness descriptions were lacking, but there was good dialogue, I liked how we learn more about the different characters, and while it started off slowly, the pace definitely picked up later in the book.
Book # 82: The Unmapped Sea by Maryrose Wood
This is one of my favorite children's series, and after finishing it, I want book six!!!! Actually, I want to go back and re-listen to all of the books, and then read book six. Hilarious, amusing, and fun. I've recommended The Mysterious Howling to some kids at work, and hope they continue with the series as well.
Book # 83: My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
My first Wodehouse, but certainly not my last! I enjoyed all of the short stories in here, but particularly the ones that featured Jeeves.
Book # 84: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
I read this because it's about Quiz Bowl, and when I was in jr. high and high school, I lived for Quiz Bowl! A nice YA book that is and age-appropriate romance, and does a nice job of highlighting the ups and downs of high school friendships.
Book # 85: Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson
Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but in a mansion. Six children have been invited by a reclusive countess, but nobody knows why. Tabitha, the main character, must solve a mystery, but I don't want to spoil anything about this book. Delightful middle grade fiction that will appeal to a lot of readers.
Book # 86: Prisoner 88 by Leah Pileggi
Based on true events, this is the story of a ten-year-old boy who was sent to the Idaho Territorial Penitentiary in the 1880s. Excellent historical fiction, well written, and good for 4th or 5th grade and up. Another book I recommend for readers who want a great story and historical fiction.
Book # 87: The Log Cabin Wedding by Ellen Howard
A short children’s book about a pioneer girl dealing with her mother’s death and her father’s remarriage.
Book # 88: The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer
An ok but forgettable novel. I don’t think I was in the author’s target audience. Good for a beach read.
Book # 89: The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Nesbit has been on my list of authors to read for a while, and reading The War that Saved My Life earlier this year lead me to this one, although I can’t recall quite how that happened. Sometimes these old stories are just what I need.
Book # 90: Chasing River by K.A. Tucker
My favorite in the series so far! Well-written New Adult set in Ireland involving a bombing, criminal organizations, folklore, and travel.
Book # 91: A Bride’s Story, Volume 1 by Kaoru Mori
I’m branching out in my reading – this was my first manga! I think this was an excellent way for me to break into manga, as it’s historical fiction. The story is set in 19th Central Asia and involves an arranged marriage between a woman a much younger boy. The artwork is absolutely amazing!
Book # 92: A Year Without Rain by D. Anne Love
Two siblings from the South Dakota prairie are sent to live with relatives in the South until the drought is over. When they return, they discover their father plans to remarry. Longer, and more developed than The Log Cabin Wedding. Also shows a lot of aspects of pioneer life on the prairie.
Book # 93: Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
June takes some time away from her job after her great aunt passes away and leaves her a bookstore in Seattle. While cleaning the store and deciding what to do with it, she discovers letters between her great aunt and Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon. Typical Saraj Jio style, but not one of my favorites of hers.
Book # 94: The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt: Letters from 1920s Farm Wives and the 111 Blocks They Inspired by Laurie Aaron Hird
Book # 95: The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks that Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird
I’m not a quilter, but I enjoyed looking at the quilt blocks and patterns in these books. The letters in the first book answered the question, “If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in the light of your own experience, want her to marry a farmer?” The question had been published in an issue of The Farmer’s Wife Magazine, and almost all of the answers were “YES.” I also liked reading the letters in the second book, which showed realities into their lives in the 1930s. Recommended for those interested in quilting, women’s views in the 1920s and 1930s, or a look at farming during those times.
Book # 96: Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
A short, strange YA tale in which two teens who have been friends for a long time can’t remember anything – who they are, where they live, what has happened to them, and so on. The chapters alternate between the two, and as they are able to discover some things, even more questions develop. There are a lot of teenage hormones and some paranormal features, as well as a major cliffhanger. I was pretty disappointed in this, because I didn’t think things were coming together as they should, but I will probably pick up the sequel to see what happens. It’s something that can be read in one sitting, so why not?
Book # 97: Virgin River by Robyn Carr
Just what I needed, another series to keep up with! I enjoyed listening to this while walking. The narrator, Therese Plummer, has a lovely voice. I also liked the setting, characters, and storyline. I can see myself exercising and doing chores while listening to more of this series.
Book # 98: An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
It was time to continue the Maisie Dobbs series, and this was a solid installment. Maisie puts her sleuthing skills to the test in a story that involves gypsies and more post-WWI life in England.
Book # 99: The First Wife by Erica Spindler
A mystery & suspense story with family secrets and amnesia. Nothing wonderful or particularly memorable, but a decent read when I needed one.
Book # 100: Adrift by Paul Griffin
Five teenagers from varying backgrounds end up stranded in a small boat that is floating out at sea. Will any of them be able to survive? There’s also a backstory between two of the characters that may impact decisions they make while trying to endure the circumstances they are in.
Book # 101: The Best Man by Kristan Higgins
Higgins needs to write like 54754767486748645 more books. They are enjoyable, humorous, sweet, and fun. I think some of the situations she comes up with for her characters are life-like and could actually happen to me or people I know. I will enjoy reading more in this series!
Book # 102: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Most likely, this book will be in my top five reads of 2015.
Two teenage girls, one Chinese American and one a runaway slave, must disguise themselves as male and make their way across the Oregon Trail. The story pulls you in immediately and the pages fly by until the ending. Well written, well researched, it’s solid historical fiction and a book I could see myself rereading. Highly, highly recommended, not only as historical fiction, but for its diverse characters and the original, unique story.
Plus, the cover is beautiful.
Book # 103: The Unbelievable Top Secret Diary of Pig by Emer Stamp
If you can get past the improper grammar, and don’t mind some potty humor thrown in sporadically, or are an eight year old boy, this might be the book for you. Pig and his friend Duck end up on a lot of adventures, including going to space in a trocket (tractor rocket) to avoid Farmer, who has a plan for Pig’s fate. I laughed out loud several times while reading this, but when I had finished the book, I was glad to move on. Kids will giggle and be amused at the things Pig says and does in this story.
Book # 104: The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble
Clara and her sister, Maren, live with their aunt. Maren is turning into a mermaid and must go to the sea or she will die. The journey to the sea is dangerous and filled with various people who want Maren for their own reasons.
The writing was fine, but I listened to an audio version that was too slowly paced and I couldn’t focus on the story.
Book # 105: A Bride’s Story, Volume 2 by Kaoru Mori
The second installment in this manga series set in Central Asia in the 19th century. The illustrations are gorgeous!
Book # 106: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins
I’ve read several of the author’s romance novels, but this was her first fiction/women’s fiction book. Chapters alternate between two sisters, Jenny and Rachel, and events that are taking place in their lives. As I’ve come to expect from the author, the story was well written and full of the perfect combination of happy, sad, funny, sweet, and emotional moments.
It also made me wish I were talented enough to be a wedding dress designer.
Book # 107: Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley
I know this book got some buzz this summer, and it seems like people either loved or hated it. It did not work for me, but I must admit the concept was unique and interesting, and I can see how it could be the right book for other readers.
Book # 108: A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
Sometime last fall, I listened to the first book in this cozy mystery series involving a former MI5 agent turned priest. I enjoyed this installment, and the audiobook narration was lovely.
Book # 109: The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes
Susanna Kearsley mentioned this book on Facebook, and since she raved about it, I immediately placed a hold. From the event that takes place on the first pages, I knew it would be difficult to put the book down.
The story alternates between the present day, when Inara is renovating her aunt’s island estate that she has inherited and the late 1800s where a Chinese American woman, Mei Lein, faces prejudice, violence, and heartbreak. There is a connection between the two women, but it isn’t revealed until the end of the book.
For the most part, the writing was top notch, and the story was well paced. Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction, novels with dual narrators/timelines, and the settings in the Pacific Northwest.
Book # 110: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
After waiting six months, my hold on this book finally came in. I liked parts of it, but somehow my preconceived ideas about the plot were way off base. It was not quite what I was expecting, but I still thought it was a decent read and I’ll probably watch the movie at some point after it’s released on DVD.
Book # 111: Manor of Secrets by Katherine Longshore
This YA novel was a disappointment! It could have been excellent, but the characters were either too stereotypical or not developed, and the entire story lacked something. I can see teenage girls who love Downton Abbey enjoying it, but it did not work for me.
Book # 112: Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt
This novel by Kate Hewitt, who also writes under the name Katharine Swartz, was just what I needed to read when life was busy. The first in a series, I will definitely be looking for the next book when it comes out next year. It’s a combination of women’s fiction/chick lit/romance/contemporary fiction that is set in a small village called Hartley-by-the-Sea, on England’s Cumbrian coast. I cared about the characters, and enjoyed this dose of small town English life.
Book # 113: Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn
An audiobook that was an entertaining look at Queen Elizabeth taking off and not telling anyone where she was going. Quite a variety of characters and I definitely learned about the inner workings of the royal staff.
Book # 114: The League of Beastly Dreadfuls by Holly Grant
Anastasia is told her parents were killed in a vacuum cleaner accident, and she must go live with her great aunts at their Victorian home, which is actually an insane asylum. Things are not all they appear to be, however, and after a while Anastasia meets two boys at the house. They decide to plan an escape, but will they be successful?
This is apparently going to be a series, and would make a fun read aloud for middle grade readers (and older readers too, for that matter).
Book # 115: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
This thriller came up when I was searching for something else in the catalog at work, and it sounded interesting, so I decided to read it. Out of the blue, Nora receives an invitation to an old friend’s bachelorette party, which will take place at a secluded house in the woods over the course of a weekend. Nora had had a falling out with the bride-to-be, Claire, and is reluctant to attend the celebration, but in the end, she decides to go.
When Nora wakes up in the hospital, the who, what, why, and how of a mystery are revealed. It may or may not be a surprise for the reader, and the plot may not flow as easily as it could, but the atmosphere of the story make up for it.
Book # 116: Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr
The next book in the Virgin River series, which I listen to while I walk/exercise/do housework. Something light and easy for my brain after work.
Book # 117: The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz
After reading Rainy Day Sisters, I decided to read one of the author’s historical fiction novels. It isn’t strictly hf, as there is a contemporary storyline mixed in as well. In the present day, Marin and her much younger half-sister move to a new town after their father and mother/stepmother are killed. They buy a house and discover a locked, walled garden. Marin becomes interested in the garden’s history and is determined to discover any secrets it may hold.
In 1919, Eleanor is dealing with the end of WWI and how it has changed her life. Her father decides to allow her to build a garden, which involves the assistance of a handyman. Both Marin and Eleanor deal with grief and grow as they spend time in the garden.
All in all, it was a good read, and I will look for more of the author’s novels in the future.
Book # 118: Wonder at the Edge of the World by Nicole Helget
Children’s fiction that is an epic historical adventure story with a touch of magical and fantasy elements including whaling, a trip to Antarctica, and rare artifacts. Set in the 1850s and covers a variety of themes.
Book # 119: Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
I enjoyed Holes when I read it years ago, so I was looking forward to this new Sachar book. Two students who attend a private school take a shortcut through the woods and stumble across some strange mud. What happens next involves the US Government, doctors, and could impact the entire world. The story is definitely a combination of mystery, environmental, and suspense, with some humor and family drama thrown in as well. While it will keep kids engaged, I felt it was too short and my expectations were not met.
Book # 120: Never Never: Part Two by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
Grr. I did not want this novella to have a cliffhanger! I read PartTtwo because when I finished Part One, I was curious enough to continue, even though the whole story is a bit strange. I really just want to know what’s going on with Silas and Charlie, so I may just read reviews and spoilers from here on out…
Book # 121: Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis
I was hoping this would be more like the Kristan Higgins books I have read, but it wasn’t. I probably won’t read any more Shalvis novels, as there are plenty of other books for me!
Book # 122: The Return of Captain John Emmett by Elizabeth Speller
I wanted to like this one, but the pacing was too slow for me. Another WWI-era mystery. Not bad, but not the right book at the right time for me.
Book # 123: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
What happens when you are a child and your best friend suddenly disappears from your life, only to return when you are a teenager?
I thought this was a good, well-written YA novel. Emmy’s parents have been very strict and controlling with her upbringing after Oliver was kidnapped, and she wants to live without their constant worrying and have her own life. Oliver has a lot to deal with as well, and along with their friends, they must figure out friendships, family, growing up, and learning about themselves.
Despite the title, the book focused on more than just the two main characters, and was thoughtful and complex. Definitely worth picking up, especially if you are looking for a unique best friend-romance type of story…just remember, there’s more to it than that!
Book # 124: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino
I read and enjoyed one of Carlino’s other novels earlier this year, and decided to try this one as well. Matt and Grace met and became friends their senior year at NYU, and eventually their friendship turned to love. However, for various reasons, they lost touch at the end of that year. Fifteen years later, Matt sees Grace on the subway, and they are brought together again. But after a decade and a half, will they be able to reconnect? Or will life make that impossible?
I liked the dual points of view, and while a few plot points were predictable, the story was still good. I will definitely read more by this author in the future.
Book # 125: The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
Middle grade/children’s historical fiction/mystery set in 17th Century London involving codes and puzzles, apothecaries, alchemists, science, and history. There’s lot of action and adventure, conspiracies, murder, humor, friendship, and more to keep readers turning the pages.
When the apothecary he has been apprenticed to dies, Christopher sets out to solve the murder, although his own life could be on the line.
I wish there had been more of a strong female presence in the book, but it will appeal to many readers. The audio version is also recommended.
Book # 126: Consent by Nancy Ohlin
This YA novel is geared towards older teens, and it covers a whole range of questions, topics, and themes. On the one hand, it’s about a student-teacher affair, but on the other hand, its much more.
Bea is a self-taught piano prodigy who connects with a long-term substitute music teacher. He convinces her to audition for Julliard. Bea’s backstory explains why she has a strained relationship with her father and why, along with her friend, is making non-musical college plans. Dane, who is only a few years older than Bea, shares her love and passion for music, and there is an emphasis on music throughout the story.
The ending was rushed and could have been much better, but overall, the story makes the reader think about a lot of issues and invites discussion.
Book # 127: Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr
Number three in the Virgin River series. I like how Carr has created characters you care about, and brings different issues to the stories that are real and true-to-life.
Book # 128: Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters
Another dual timeline novel, which I tend to enjoy. The present day story is about a woman who works at a bookstore and discovers a letter in her grandmother’s things which makes her question her family history. The WWII story involves a an unhappily married woman and a Polish pilot. The choices Dorothy/Dorothea (the grandmother) makes will impact future generations.
A solid read that had a lot going for it. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it.
Book # 129: Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker
The final book in the Burying Water series, Surviving Ice was more suspenseful and gritty than the first three books. The story focuses on Ivy, a tattoo artist who partially witnesses a crime and may or may not be in possession of an important object. Sebastian, a former Navy SEAL, now works for a security company, and has to find out what Ivy knows about the crime and missing item.
While it’s not my favorite in the series, this was still a top-notch New Adult suspense/mystery novel. It kept me guessing, wondering, and waiting to see what would happen with Ivy and Sebastian.
Thankfully, the author has another completed series for me to read, and will have another new book out early next year. If they are anything like this series, I know I’ll have some good reading in the future!
Book # 130: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
There was a ton of buzz about this book earlier this year, and I knew it was one I would need to read sooner rather than later. While it’s a YA book, I think a lot of adults will get more out of it than many teens will. I liked the epistolary format, although I can see where some teens might not care for it and might find the length of the novel a bit much. I also loved how the author (who I knew best from writing Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) incorporated different books and literature throughout the story.
In 1911, Joan, who is 14, is forced to stop going to school so she can help with her share of the work on her father’s farm. One day, he burns her beloved books, and she decides enough is enough. She heads to Baltimore, where she becomes a servant in a Jewish household.
Joan (AKA Janet) is a great character, and really grows from the start of the story to the end. Themes of religion, tolerance, education, hard work, opportunity, and even adolescent crushes were addressed.
I loved this book up until Joan’s infatuation with one of her employer’s sons takes over the story.
Otherwise, it was a fantastic read, and I have already recommended it to several people.
Book # 131: Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Lyla Payne
I couldn’t sleep one night last week, so I read this instead. It’s actually two novellas, with a couple of overlapping characters. The first is set at a B&B in Ireland, where a college student surprises her Irish boyfriend , who of course is not the right guy for her. The second story takes place in London, and an internship in the music industry brings two people back together – except one is member of a world-famous boy band, and secrets about their past relationship may ruin any chance of a future together.
For a couple hours of reading when I couldn’t sleep, they were fine, but I wish the author had at least opened a thesaurus once when she was writing the stories, and the main characters’ personalities really bugged me. When I was done reading, I was happily ready to move onto the next book in my pile!
Book # 132: Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
Historical fiction based on real people and events. When Constance and her sisters are struck by an automobile while driving their buggy, they have no idea how much their lives will change.
I liked it, but did not love it…but that’s probably because I was listening to the audiobook while doing work in my office, and I didn’t concentrate like I should have. I did find the plot to be intriguing, appreciated the details and research done by the author, and have recommended it to others.
Book # 133: A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
A classic children’s tale that I missed when I was young. I can see why Paddington is a favorite with kids, and will plan to read this (and the other books that follow) with my own kids one day. The audio version, narrated by Stephen Fry, was top-notch as well.
Book # 134: Evergreen Falls by Kimberley Freeman
I’ve read some of the author’s books before, and while I typically like the story and setting, there’s usually one or two things that bother me and keep me from REALLY liking the whole story. That was the case with Evergreen Falls. It’s another dual timeline story, set in the present and in 1926. In 1926, Violet finds a job as a waitress/staff member at a hotel that in Australia’s Blue Mountains. She meets and falls in love with a guest, Sam, who is addicted to opium.
In the present day, Lauren has moved from Tasmania to work at a café near the now-closed Evergreen Falls hotel. It is being renovated, and she is able to explore parts of the building, where she comes across some letters written by Sam. She works to solve several mysteries regarding the hotel and Sam.
The parts were all there, but I couldn’t get past Violet and Sam’s relationship. Too many things were just wrong regarding it. I also thought there were several things the author included that were never finished or explained properly. I will read more by the author, and continue to hope they will improve.
Book # 135: Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Well, this Fitzpatrick book was better than the other one I’ve read, Black Ice. Stella (not her real name) witnessed a crime, and has to move to a small town in Nebraska to stay safe until she can testify. But even tiny Thunder Basin has enemies, and there is no guarantee she will be protected…or be able to keep up the lies she has to tell about herself.
I really did not like Stella for the first part of the book, but she slowly got a bit likeable. I really liked Chet’s character; in fact, he was one of the best things about the book. The ending worked, but felt a bit rushed. There were a few things that could have been expanded or tied up better.
Not wonderful YA fiction, but readable.
I’d like to read a few more books this year, and maybe get up to 140 books read. I’ve been looking back at my reading for 2015, and noticing a few things. I have not read as much non-fiction as I used to, and I haven’t read as many books from my want-to-read lists either. The majority of my books are new, either because I’ve ordered them for my library, or seen them come up as new items in the consortium catalog.
I need to focus more on children’s and teen books for work, even though I want to be able to read adult books, too. I also need to listen to more audiobooks at home, as I listen to a lot of them at work and can’t concentrate as much on the story when I do that.
I’m curious how my reading will go from here until next spring and summer. I (finally!) got engaged back in October, and since Farmer Boy said we couldn’t have a May wedding due to farming, I decided to go with April 30. Actually, that’s the date that worked best for various reasons, so I’ve been busy getting some of the big things taken care of before the holidays.
I’d love to incorporate books and reading into the reception and photos. Has anyone done that? I’m always looking for ideas. Also, are there any books you read or wish you’d have read when you were engaged?
>142 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori! It feels good to get my thoughts about what I've read out there, even if it's been a while since I read the books. Darn real life getting in the way!
Book # 136: Icebreaker by Lian Tanner
Unique children’s science fiction (the first of a trilogy) by an Australian author that is set in the future on a large ship. Petrel, who is not a part of any of the distinct groups on the ship, discovers a boy on an iceberg. The book also features talking rats, dreams, secret passageways, murder, and pro or anti-technology and machine sentiments. Very fast pace, good world building, and vivid characters will make this enjoyable for middle grade and tween readers.
Book # 137: Soundless by Richelle Mead
This YA book sounded soooo good when I read the blurbs on the back cover. “Steeped in Chinese folklore” and “richly imagined world” helped push this to the top of my reading pile. Ugh. It was just another teen book about an orphan who wants to help her sister and save her village and fight her feelings for her childhood friend, who of course is terribly attractive. The story could have been good, and it had a lot of elements that could have worked. Isolated townspeople suffer from deafness and in some instances blindness, and the food shipments they depend on stop. So the main character and her hot friend attempt to save the day. Unfortunately, the story was not “steeped in Chinese folklore”, and if the characters had not had Chinese names, it could have been set anywhere. I had trouble picturing the “richly imagined world,” as well.
If I had nothing else to read, it would have been fine, but when there are better books to read, this one just couldn’t cut it for me.
Book # 138: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Somehow I missed ever reading this classic picture book or having it read to me. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but it happened. I’ve also never seen the movie, but now that I’ve read the story, I will have to watch it.
When I learned that Liam Neeson narrated an audio version, I requested it, and spent a very happy sixteen and a half minutes following along with my library’s copy. I loved it, and my only sight gripe was the pacing of the narrator. There were a couple of times when I was waiting and waiting to turn the page because he had one more sentence to read. But his voice was definitely worth the slight pauses, and the picture book helped me feel more ready for Christmas, even if the weather here doesn’t agree.
Book # 139: Reluctantly Married by Victorine E. Lieske
Two morning show cohosts agree to a reality dating show to help boost their careers. There was some potential, but the pacing was off, and the story ended up being dull and even boring at times.
Book # 140: A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr
Not my favorite in the series so far.
Book # 141: Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich
By this point in the series, I’ve continued reading because there are always laugh-out-loud moments, I want SOMETHING to happen with either Morelli or Ranger (Morelli!!), and I know what to expect. This installment was grittier than previous episodes, and had Morelli breaking up with Stephanie at the start of the novel. Looking forward to Book 23!
Book # 142: Hired Bride by Noelle Adams
A woman agrees to be married to a man for six months. Her family’s ancestral house will get repaired, and he will secure a business deal that will allow him to purchase the restaurant his mother helped build up. At the end of six months, will they decide to go their separate ways, or stay married?
Too many parts of the story were not developed well, and it was just too predictable. Even though I knew what would happen by the end, I was hoping for a twist that just never happened.
Book # 143: A Bride’s Story, Volume 3 by Kaoru Mori
Continuing with this gorgeous manga series set in Central Asia in the 19th Century. This volume focused on Mr. Smith, who was in the previous books. I’ve already requested the next one, and can’t wait to read it. This series always makes me lament my lack of artistic talent! Even if I didn't care for the history/geography/story, the pictures are more than worth looking at!
Book # 144: Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko
Middle grade historical fiction set in San Francisco in 1900. It’s about a girl named Lizzie, her father who is a doctor, and an outbreak of the plague. It also deals a lot with upper class society of the time, how they interacted with servants, and the Chinese-American population of the city. I enjoyed it and learned some new things about diseases and life at the turn of the 20th Century in San Francisco.
I got married in 2011, right before Pinterest hit the web. Le sigh. It's a treasure trove for bookish wedding ideas.
I have seen some of the ideas on Pinterest, and am to the point where I am starting to get too many ideas and way too stressed about things!
The last book of 2015 was Book # 145: Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter. Set in a small town in Maine, on a Christmas Tree farm, right around Christmastime. A decent enough read when I needed something that would keep my interest but not require much thinking.
Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Prairie Cooks by Carrie Young
Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr
A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
I'll post my 2016 thread after it's created.