50 in 2012?
Me
sarahmichigan
Is anybody planning to start a 50 in 2012 community? I enjoyed reading with you all this year & happy new year of reading to you all!

Books 17-22
blood
realmjit
17: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
18: Shatter Me, Tahereh Mafi
19: Ten Rules for Living With My Sister, Ann M. Martin
20: Incarnate, Jodi Meadows
21: The Kitemaster and Other Stories, Jim C. Hines
22: Goblin Tales, Jim C. Hines

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is similar to Coraline, Arabat, and The Wizard of Oz -- a girl leaves her humdrum life to jump dimensions into a world where she must make an arduous journey with strange companions to find the thing that will same the world and let her go home again.The back cover compares it to Alice in Wonderland and The Golden Compass. I can easily understand Wonderland, where nonsense ruled physics, but not Compass. Regardless, Girl is a beautiful story with charming non-human allies and refreshingly wicked villians.

Shatter Me reminds me of The Handmaid's Tale -- the reader is given a very narrow glimpse of a post-apocolyptic world, and the apocolyspe is never quite explained. In this case, the protagonist was a preteen when the revolution came, and thus ill-equipped to provide any socio-political observation, although the reference to "when the price of everything went up so high no one could afford to live anymore" does ring familiar. The protagonist has a killing touch that is never quite explained, except to say that she grew up never being touched or being allowed to touch before accidentally killing a toddler. The story is gripping, but the lack of world-building makes it rather bare. The title makes no sense at all.

Ten Rules for Living With My Sister is about an 8-year-old figuring out how to avoid getting the silent treatment from her 14-year-old sister, with a backdrop of a grandfather staying with her family until an apartment becomes available in an assisted living facility. I liked Pearl, and I enjoyed watching her reason things out. Lexie is obviously a moody teenager, and occasionally unlikeable until she displays a compassionate streak.

Incarnate has much better world-building than Shatter. In a world where everyone is reincarnated and remembers who they are from life to life, Ana is new. She has no memory of past lives, and the technology available can't identify who she was before. Her mother insists she is a no-soul, incapable of compassion or love, and treats her like the court-mandated burden that she is. Meadows created an extremely believable survivor of emotional neglect without burdening her with a crippled, shellshocked psyche. Ana is wary, and makes it clear that she expects to kicked to the curb at any moment, but she learns to trust and fall in love before the end of the book.

The Kitemaster and Other Stories and Goblin Tales are two short story collections that jimhines put out as e-books. When I got a Kindle for Yule, these were the first books I bought. I adore Jim's work.

Books #49 & #50
kitty, reading
sarahmichigan
Woo-hoo - made it to 50! I'm guessing my total books read in 2011 will be 52-54 by Dec. 31...

Book #49 was "Gormenghast," the second of three books in a series by Mervyn Peake. Our main character, Titus, comes of age in this book and really becomes the 77th Earl of Groan in his own right - only to relinquish the role at the very end. I love the Peake's descriptions of places and people and nature, even though they do slow the pacing a bit. It's also interesting to me how he can make you feel some compassion or sense of identification with the villain, Steerpike. I don't know explicitly what themes Peake believed he was exploring, but it seems to me that the contrast between Titus and Steerpike is about the right and the wrong ways to go about challenging tradition and breaking out of the bonds life tries to impose upon you.

Book #50 was "Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body" by Neil Shubin. This was a book recommended by a friend, and I really liked it! When it comes to science topics popularized for the general public, I sometimes am frustrated that they aren't telling me much I don't already know, since I do a fair amount of science reading for pleasure. This is especially true in the area of evolution, as I've done a fair bit of reading on the topic, from "The Blind Watchmaker" to "On the Origin of Species." There are a few places in the book where Shubin is rehashing things I already know, but he gets there in a different and entertaining way. And, I learned a ton about the evolution of the human body, and found the section on the evolution of our ears especially fascinating - do you know why getting overly-drunk can give you the spins? I know now, after reading this book! I highly recommend this book for anyone curious to learn more about the evolution of the human body while simultaneously being entertained.
The other books I've read so far this year:Collapse )

Books #47 & #48
kitty, reading
sarahmichigan
Book #47 was "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius" by David Eggers. It's a memoir about him losing both his parents within a month's time and ending up raising his much-younger brother when he is only just barely an adult (21 when his parents die) himself. He is very upfront about the fact that he's massaged some dates, times and names and recreated dialogue from memory. It's pretty obvious that he's straying from the facts when, for instance, his 8-year-old brother starts on long philosophical monologues. It's a funny book for how sad the subject matter is. I'd like to read more by the author.

Book #48 was "A Scanner Darkly" by Phillip K. Dick, read as an audiobook by Paul Giamatti. Let me say that again: Paul-freaking-Giamatti. It was a genius casting choice - he is the PERFECT reader for this wacked-out psychadelic trip of a book. The writing style is very conventional, at least for the first half of the book, but it gets weirder and weirder as the main character's mind disintegrates under the influence of "Substance D" or "Death" - a designer drug. He's living a double life as a narc and as a druggie, and his life starts to unravel when he can't keep the parts of his life separate anymore. I loved this audiobook so much.
The other books I've read so far this year:Collapse )

Books 37, 38, and 39
Paper
misquoted
I haven't added books in a while.
I've read Dune Road by Jane Green, Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Boys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle.

Still reading articles, book chapters, etc. for school. The semester will be over on December 17, so I might get a chance to read something just simple and fun then, but right now most of the pleasure reading I'm doing isn't reading, it's audiobooks.

Books 13-16
blood
realmjit
I've discovered that I can post from the browser on my not-so-smartphone, so here goes.

13: Namaah's Curse, Jaqueline Carey.
14: Skin Trade, Laurell K. Hamilton
15 4: Bullet, Laurell K. Hamilton
15: The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate

Namaah's Curse is part two in Carey's last Terre D'Ange story trilogy. She has openly said that this will be the last, she's ready to move on, but maybe sometime next decade if a story really jumps out at her. Romanticly, this could have ended with Happily Ever After. but noooo. for the last book, Moirin has to go to South America.

Skin Trade and Bullet are two more Anita Baker books. As much as I enjoy the porn, I keep hoping the series will get back to hunting down antagonists that can be described with any combination of the words monster, serial, and killer. Bullet especially ticked me off because Anita stayed home to have sex with everyone who walked in the door is an effort to build a power base for her boyfriend, while all the other US Marshalls in the Preternatural Division get to hunt down rotting vampires. Plus, I'd read it once before. I hope to gods I don't have two copies.

The One and Only Ivan made up for the disappointment. It's about a gorilla who lives in a shopping mall with a circus theme. It's about life and death and the stuff that happens in between, animals bonding outside their species, and how some humans can be incredibly kind and compassionate, while others are vicious asshats. I read this as an ARC, so the cover says it's not due out until January 2012.

Books #45 and #46
Me
sarahmichigan
Book #45 was "Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America" by Erik Larson. I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend and really liked it. Larson writes in a very novelistic narrative way, and so this was a fun and relatively easy read, while I still learned a ton about the history of Chicago, the World's Fair of 1893, the creation of the Ferris Wheel and the scary story of serial killer H.H. Holmes. It could have felt unorganized since Larson is trying to tackle so much information, not just the genesis and legacy of the World Fair but also telling Holmes' story, but the author handles it smoothly. One of my favorite non-fiction reads of the year - highly recommended.

Book #46 was "How to Make Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. Yes, the book is old, and yes, times have changed. And yes, a lot of the advice in this book is just common sense (for example: "Smile!"), but he puts it together in a way that each lesson builds on the other. I especially like his advice that the only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it. He doesn't just tell you what to do but gives examples of how people have put the advice into practice. I think a lot of people in any line of work where they have to deal with people, or anyone simply having a hard time making new friends, could learn something from this book.
The other books I've read so far this year:Collapse )

Books #43 and #44
kitty, reading
sarahmichigan
Book #43 was "A Night in the Lonesome October" by Roger Zelazny, as an audiobook, read by the author. I LOVED this book! I don't think Zelazny is the best reader ever, but it's always interesting to me to hear a book read by the author. It's his last book before he died, and he recorded the audiobook days or weeks before his death. The recording went missing, but was recovered in 2006. Each chapter in the book covers one "night" in the month of October (plus one "introductory" chapter). The story is told by a dog named Snuff, and eventually, you come to find out that some of the most archetypal characters from horror and mystery literature are playing a "Great Game" that could change mankind's fate forever if the Elder Gods are allowed into the world on Halloween night. Probably one of my favorite reads of the year.

Book #44 was "Riders of Leviathan" by Toni Anzetti. My husband and I read her book "Typhon's Children" many years ago and were really impressed with it, but didn't realize until this year that there was a sequel, and this is it. We had a fun time reading this book chapter by chapter out loud to one another over several months. I think the pacing is a little off in the first third, but after that, all the things I liked about her first book are also on display in the second - weird creatures based on real science, well-rounded characters, and a plot that makes you want to keep turning pages. I recommend both books highly.
The other books I've read so far this year:Collapse )

Books #41 and 42
Me
sarahmichigan
Book #41 was "Silver on the Tree," the last in the 5-book series "The Dark is Rising" by Susan Cooper. I think I liked book #4, "The Grey King," the best, but this one was quite satisfying as well, as she wrapped up all the threads in the previous books. I was sad about what happened to a few of the characters, but it seemed entirely fitting. I loved re-reading this series and really enjoyed it as a book on CD experience.

Book #42 was "The Sea of Monsters" by Rick Riordan, the second in the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series. I like the reader of the audio book a lot. These are a fun romp, even if I find them a bit young for my taste. The fun, for me, is seeing how Riordan translates the ancient myths and gods into their modern-day versions. Mostly brain candy, but nothing wrong with that!


The other books I've read so far this year:Collapse )

Books #39 and 40
Me
sarahmichigan
Book #39 was "Titus Groan," the first in a series of books by Mervyn Peake, all set in the same castle, Gormenghast. The series was made into a really fun mini-series some time ago, and that was my introduction to Peake's universe. I find the books are very funny, though it's a dark and dry sense of humor. They get classified as fantasy, but really have very few fantastical elements. They're set in a feudal world where the 76th Earl of Groan is getting old, and finally his heir has been born - Titus Groan, meant to be the 77th earl. Everything moves very slowly in Gormenghast, and very little changes. But around the time of Titus' birth, a young man named Steerpike throws off his inherited -and hated- role as kitchen boy and starts working his way up the hierarchy, plotting and scheming. The first book ends with Titus, not even 18 months old yet, being declared Earl. I like these books because they remind me of a time when I was a kid and would be sad when a good book ended. With these books, you can really lose yourself in them and know that there's plenty more still to read for many pages. The first three books total 1,100 pages, and had he not passed away, Peake woul have written more in this universe - the omnibus edition I have includes an unfinished draft of a 4th Gormenghast book.

Book #40 was "Arc of Justice: A saga of race, civil rights and murder in the Jazz Age" by Kevin Boyle. This book was extra-interesting to me because it's set in Detroit. It was hard to read in some senses, because the topic is such a downer, and yet I got pulled in and wanted to know what happened next, and I was thrilled with all the history of Detroit I got to learn, and felt Boyle did a fantastic job of putting this criminal trial in the social, racial and cultural context it needed to be best understood. A young, black doctor who has worked his way up from a sharecropping family to be a prominent physician moves into a white neighborhood with his wife and child in 1920s Detroit, and a mob of neighbors gathers. A shot rings out, and the day ends in 11 arrests. The trial, which helps launch the NAACP's legal defense fund, attracts the attention of renowned lawyer Clarence Darrow. A really interesting - though not, in the end, uplifting - read. I still recommend it, but brace yourself.


The other books I've read so far this year:Collapse )



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