Saturday, January 30, 2010

Life As We Knew It
by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Published in 2006. 337 pages.

I read the apocalyptic young adult novel Life As We Knew It back in April. I'd wanted to read it for a while, and I decided to choose it for my church women's group book club. I thought it was a great read - but, unfortunately, the book club meeting was postponed and then never rescheduled, so I didn't get a chance to discuss it with anyone. I think it would have precipitated some good conversation.

I am looking forward to reading the other books in the "Moon Crash Trilogy" - The Dead and the Gone (published in 2008), which presents the same events from another viewpoint, and This World We Live In (to be released in April), which brings both story lines together.

Other book bloggers' reviews of Life As We Knew It:
If you have read and reviewed this book, I would love to link your review here. Please leave me a comment or email me your link!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Library Loot - January 23

Library Loot is a weekly event
co-hosted by Eva and Marg
to encourage bloggers to share the books
they’ve checked out from the library.

I picked up thirteen holds at the library yesterday,
in addition to paying off a total of over $30 in fines
on the family's five cards.

Here are the books in somewhat random order:

2010 Newbery Honor Book.
I had put it on hold because of the Newbery buzz
it was getting prior to the announcement.

This one was also getting some Newbery buzz.

As was this one.

Another 2010 Newbery Honor Book.

This one was getting some Newbery buzz too.
It's a Cybils finalist as well.

This book was getting some Newbery and Printz buzz
prior to the announcement. It's also a Cybils finalist.

Same situation with this one.

There was Printz buzz here too.

This is Sarah Dessen's latest book.

This is the latest episode in the Alex Delaware series.

I happened upon this on my goodreads to-read shelf
and thought it'd be a interesting, quick read.

SuziQOregon raved about this one,
so I wanted to read it right away.

This one got some Printz buzz too - and I just love the cover!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reader's Choice Challenge

January 1 to April 30.
Hosted by Britt.

Details and Sign-Up at Confessions of a Book Habitue.

Because I already challenged myself to read 20 of the Salt Lake County Library's Reader's Choice selections this year, I'm breaking my vow to not add any more challenges to my plate. I'm eager to read along with Britt and other challenge participants to make our own "reader's choices"!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Book List

My husband - who is a self-described non-reader - recently wrote a post about USA Today's 100 best-selling books of 2009. He said he'd be interested in knowing how many of those I have read. So, WhiteRabbit, this is for you:

(Books I've read are bolded and, where applicable, linked to my reviews. Books on my to-read list are italicized.)

  1. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

  2. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

  3. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

  4. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

  5. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

  6. The Shack by William P. Young

  7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney

  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

  9. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey

  10. Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin

  11. Glenn Beck’s Common Sense by Glenn Beck

  12. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

  13. The Associate by John Grisham

  14. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

  15. Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin

  16. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

  17. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

  18. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

  19. The Host by Stephenie Meyer

  20. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

  21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

  22. Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom

  23. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

  24. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney

  25. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

  26. The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick

  27. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

  28. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

  29. Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding

  30. Arguing With Idiots by Glenn Beck

  31. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

  32. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

  33. I, Alex Cross by James Patterson

  34. Under the Dome by Stephen King

  35. Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

  36. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

  37. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow

  38. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

  39. From Dead to Worse by Charlaine Harris

  40. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

  41. Push (Precious) by Sapphire

  42. True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy

  43. Hunted by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast

  44. Vision in White by Nora Roberts

  45. What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel (Actually it's an earlier edition that I read; it's been a while since I've been "expecting.")

  46. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

  47. Eat This, Not That! by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding

  48. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

  49. Betrayed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

  50. Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris

  51. Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

  52. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

  53. Tempted by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast

  54. Chosen by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast

  55. Untamed by P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast

  56. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

  57. Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

  58. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

  59. Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

  60. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

  61. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

  62. Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

  63. Cross Country by James Patterson

  64. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris

  65. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

  66. South of Broad by Pat Conroy

  67. Ford County: Stories by John Grisham

  68. The Appeal by John Grisham

  69. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max

  70. The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer (Although I didn't read the four books as a set.)

  71. Night World: Volume One by L.J. Smith

  72. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

  73. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris

  74. Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

  75. Evermore by Alyson Noel

  76. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

  77. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

  78. Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell

  79. Guinness World Records 2010

  80. 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life by Don Piper and Cecil Murphey

  81. The Calorie King Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter, 2009 Edition by Allan Borushek

  82. The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening and The Struggle by L.J. Smith

  83. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  84. Dead As a Doornail by Charlaine Harris

  85. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama

  86. Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

  87. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

  88. The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis

  89. Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris

  90. New Moon: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz

  91. Run for Your Life by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

  92. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

  93. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  94. Suze Orman’s 2009 Action Plan by Suze Orman

  95. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

  96. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

  97. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

  98. A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity by Bill O’Reilly

  99. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

  100. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

That's 26 that I've read (if I count The Twilight Saga), and another 25 on my to-read list. What about you? How many of you read? Are there any you think I ought to add to my to-read list? Can you identify the four or five that will never be on my to-read list?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Published in 1995. 323 pages.

First sentence (which is also the first of many "top five" lists): My desert-island, all-time, top five most memorable split-ups, in chronological order:

    1. Alison Ashworth
    2. Penny Hardwick
    3. Jackie Allen
    4. Charlie Nicholson
    5. Sarah Kendrew

Why I read this book: I admit that I'd probably not have picked up High Fidelity on my own. But it was a book club pick - and one of the things I love most about being a book club is "having" to read things that I might not have read otherwise.

What I thought: It took a few chapters for thirty-something record store owner and compulsive "top five" list maker Rob Fleming to grow on me. But once he did, I found his story to be amusing and even touching - even if we don't share tastes in music. I'd read John Green's An Abundance of Katherines shortly before I read High Fidelity, and I've got to assume that High Fidelity was an influence on Green, as I can see a younger, more geeky Rob Fleming in Colin Singleton.

What I need to do: High Fidelity was made into a movie in 2000. It stars one of my favorite actors, John Cusack. I've got to check it out!


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Published in 2008. 374 pages.

Midway through 2009, I'd heard such good things about The Hunger Games that I recommended it to my "book lunch girls" without actually having read it myself. I think we all loved it, as did both of my teenage daughters. Later in the year, I picked The Hunger Games for my book club too. Again, it was a hit - even with those that had been skeptical.

I've since read the sequel Catching Fire - which won 2009 Goodreads Choice Awards for both Favorite Book and Young Adult Series - and I'm eagerly awaiting the third book in the trilogy.

There were three topics of discussion that I raised with my book club:

  • What did you think about the characters of the book? Were they believable? Who were your favorites? Are you "Team Peeta" or "Team Gale"?
  • What does The Hunger Games imply about present society's obsession with "reality games"? And is there other social commentary in the novel we should consider?
  • What does The Hunger Games teach about the impact of choice, about right and wrong? Specifically, what did you think about some of Katniss's choices during the games?

If perchance you haven't yet read The Hunger Games, by all means, do it now!


Top Ten Uses for an Unused Prom Dress
by Tina Ferraro

Published in 2007. 240 pages.

Light, fluffy, fun teen romance. My 13yo daughter read it and thought I'd like it too. I did. I also appreciated that I didn't find the language or teen sex references objectionable for a 13yo.

I've got Ferraro's The ABC's of Kissing Boys on my 2010 to-read list.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Published in 2007. 230 pages.
Art by Ellen Fornery.
2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

My ten-year-old son amuses me when he shares what we call his "fifth-grade boy humor." I don't find it particularly funny - but it makes me smile to see him laugh. In a few years, I'm sure he'll laugh at the "freshman boy humor" of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as well.

As with my son's humor, I didn't always laugh at the "freshman boy humor" parts of Sherman Alexie's semi-autobiographical young adult novel. But since I loved Arnold "Junior" Spirit, it made me smile as I cried through the heart-breaking parts - the racism, the poverty, the alcoholism - and cheered for his successes.

One of my favorite lines is as follows:

If you let people into your life a little bit, they can be pretty damn amazing. [page 129]

Other book bloggers' reviews of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian: If you have read and reviewed this book, I would love to link your review here. Please leave me a comment or email me your link!


Bloggiesta Progress

Things aren't moving as quickly as I had hoped. But I have posted six reviews of 2009 reads and worked on three others. I've also added copyright notices to both this book and my "regular" blog in accordance with Pam's mini-challenge. I'd never thought about doing that before, but now it's done! I've also added a gadget to my sidebar for the Book Blogs Search Engine, courtesy of Fyrefly's Book Blog. I feel a little foolish that I wasn't aware of that before. What a great tool!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
by Jeff Kinney

Published in 2008. 224 pages.

As I was gathering my pile for Dewey's Read-a-Thon in October, my ten-year-old son insisted that I include Rodrick Rules. I did read it - but I didn't like it as well as either the original or The Last Straw. Up next, at Sugar Bear's urging, is Dog Days.


Eggs by Jerry Spinelli

Published in 2007. 220 pages.

Although Eggs is "realistic fiction" for middle grade students, it has the same somewhat-tall-tale-esque characters that Spinelli's Stargirl (one of my all-time favorite books) and Maniac Magee (the 1991 Newbery Award winner) do. In addressing the themes of loss and friendship, Eggs is both dark and hopeful. A good discussion could develop by exploring the symbolism of eggs. I love the starkness of the cover!


Just Grace by Charice Mericle Harper

Published in 2007. 137 pages.

Just Grace - so named to differentiate her from Grace W., Grace L., and Grace F. - is a delightful cross between Harper's Fashion Kitty and Sara Pennypacker's Clementine. The publisher's website identifies four additional books (to date) starring Grace.


Friday, January 08, 2010

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Published in 1996. 198 pages.

This was Sarah Dessen's first novel - and the fifth that I've read. She talks about it on her website.


The Kalahari Typing School for Men
by Alexander McCall Smith

Originally published in 2002.
Audiobook performed by Lisette Lecat.

This fourth installment in the adventures of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - which I enjoyed listening to early in 2009, after Morality for Beautiful Girls - could have been called Morality for Handsome Men.

I've read or listened to six books in this series to date. Perhaps I'll resume in 2010.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw
by Jeff Kinney

Published in 2009. 224 pages.

When I reviewed the first book in this series, I mentioned that I'd read it at the recommendation of my then-nine-year-old son. He loves this series, so when I saw The Last Straw at the PTA book fair, I had to pick it up for him. My son read many parts to me, and then when he left it in my bedroom, I picked it up and started reading. Before I knew it, I'd read the whole thing. I think this one had a few more "life lessons" than the first - and I know that my son thought it was terrific.


The Bloggiesta Begins!

2nd Edition
January 8-10, 2010

Hosted by Natasha at Maw Books

My goal is to spend 18 hours of the 72-hour challenge actually participating in the festivities. In addition to checking out the mini-challenges to see what I can learn this weekend, I'd like to focus on the following tasks:

On My Book Blog
  • Catch up on my 2009 and 2008 book reviews. (Without checking, I think there are about 20 books from 2009 that I have neglected to review, as well as three from 2008.)

  • Write reviews for my first two 2009 books.

  • Update the information on the sidebar.

  • "Pre-write" reviews for many of my planned 2009 reads. (That is, prepare templates with book covers, publication and page information, and links to other reviews and/or related sites.)

  • Consider changes to my blog template.

On My "Regular" Blog
  • Complete a couple of posts I've got in the works.

  • Update the information on the sidebar.

  • Create templates for future posts, possibly including those for a few memes in which I'm considering getting actively involved again.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon

Published in 2006. 338 pages.

This historical fiction novel was one of the 2009 picks for the "book lunch girls." One of the group members posted a nice review on goodreads. I didn't like the book as well as she did - but I was under a lot of stress from a tax deadline during the time I was reading it, so that likely affected my experience. There is a Reading Group Guide for the book here.


Favorite Reads of 2009

In 2009 on goodreads, I gave five stars ("it was amazing") to only two books. It appears that I gave another 45 books a four-star rating ("really liked it"). The following are a few of my favorites of those 47 good reads:

By the way, the first and last are the books that got five stars.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Social Justice Challenge

2010 Social Justice Reading Challenge

I thought that I was going to hold myself to five challenges this year, but I just can't pass on the opportunity to participate in the Social Justice Challenge and both learn about and take action against social injustices in the world. All the details are available on the challenge blog.

The monthly themes in which I'm most interested in participating as an "activist" are Domestic Violence and Child Abuse (March), AIDS Crisis (May), Illiteracy and Education (August), and Women's Rights (November).

January's theme is Religious Freedom. I expect that I'll be either a "volunteer" or an "observer" as I figure out exactly how this is all going to work.

20-10 Plus 20-10
A Personal Challenge

I am planning to limit myself to six reading challenges in 2010, two of which began in 2009. Here are the six, with links to the challenge blogs:

Additionally, I'm going to challenge myself to read "20-10 Plus 20-10" from four book lists in which I'm interested. Those books better fit into the parameters of the other challenges too, or else I'm going to have to far exceed my goal of 104 books for the year (an average of two a week).
  • 20 Books from the Salt Lake County Library Reader's Choice. Recently published books are chosen twice a year by the Salt Lake County Library staff as books they enjoyed reading and think library patrons will enjoy too. Patrons vote for their favorites. My picks will come from the 2010 nominees or past winners.

  • 10 Books from the Midvale Middle School Book Challenge. The students at the middle school that my daughter attends are encouraged to participate in a "book challenge" in which they are to read 30 books from a list of recommended YA titles. I want to read some of the 2009-2010 school year recommendations (which I've put on one of my goodreads shelves), and, if necessary, some of those for 2010-2011.

  • 20 Books from Finalists for The Cybils Awards. These "Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Award" finalists for 2009-2010 were announced on New Year's Day, with the winners to be announced on Valentine's Day.

  • 10 Books from the Beehive Awards. The Beehive Awards - in five categories - are sponsored by the Children's Literature Association of Utah (CLAU). Winners are chosen from the nominated books by the children of Utah, who vote for their favorites. My picks will come from the 2010 nominees (which can be found here) and/or prior year winners (which can be found here).

Happy reading in 2010!

Book Awards IV

10 months. 10 awards.

January 1 to November 1.
Hosted by 3M.
Rules and Sign-up on the Challenge Blog.

I don't yet know what I'll be reading, and since the rules allow me to create my list as I go, I'm going to do that. But here are a few of the books I'm currently considering:
  • Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (Giller Prize 1996)

  • Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner (Pulitzer Prize in Fiction 1972)

  • Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (National Book Award Finalist in Young People's Literature 2009)

  • A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban (Beehive Award Nominee 2010)

  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (Printz Honor Book 2009)

  • Finding Nouf by Zoë Ferraris (Alex Award 2009)

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Man Booker Prize 2002)

  • A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (Pulitzer Prize in History 1991)

  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Alex Award 2002)

  • Wild Swans by Jung Chang (British Book Award 1994)