Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2010 Book Year in Review

Mostly, I'm just proud of myself for meeting my goal. It was close! I came in at 76 books, just one over my goal of 75. Next year I should have more time for reading, so I'm planning on getting a solid 100 books in. Wish me luck!

May was my big reading month, with 10 books - July was the loser; I only read Frankenstein in July. :D

I had a lot of favorites from 2010:

In Children's Lit:
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Harry Potter (obvious, perhaps)
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
Fablehaven 5 by Brandon Mull

In YA Lit:
Matched by Ally Condie
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder

Evelina by Fanny Burney
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
The Help by Katherine Stockett
The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg

Happy reading in 2011, everyone! Let me know if you have any good recommendations for books I should read this year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Book List

January's Completed Reads
Extras by Scott Westerfeld.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank.

February's Completed Reads
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.

March's Completed Reads
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

A Place Where the Sea Remembers by Sandra Benitez.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

Fire by Kristin Cashore.

Othello by William Shakespeare.

Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

Calamity Jack by Shannon, Dean, and Nathan Hale.

April's Completed Reads
A Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson.

The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg.

Grammar by Diagram by Cindy L. Vitto.

Fablehaven 1-4 by Brandon Mull.

Fablehaven 5: Keys to the Demon Prison by Brandon Mull.

May's Completed Reads
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn.

Evelina by Frances Burney.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.

The 39 Clues Book 6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson.

The 39 Clues Book 7: The Viper's Nest by Peter Lerangis.

June's Completed Reads
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan.

My Antonia by Willa Cather.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer.

Emma by Jane Austen.

The 39 Clues #8: The Emperor's Code by Gordon Korman.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Splendor by Anna Godberson.

July's Completed Reads
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

August's Completed Reads
Charlie Bone and the Red Knight by Jenny Nimmo.

Middlemarch by George Eliot.

The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson.

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

Cecilia by Fanny Burney.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George.

The 39 Clues #9: Storm Warning by Linda Sue Park.

September's Completed Reads
A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain.

39 Clues #10: Into the Gauntlet by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain.

Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder.

Spells by Aprilynne Pike.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather.

October's Completed Reads
Harry Potter: 1 - 7 by J.K. Rowling

November's Completed Reads
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Travels With Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck.

December's Completed Reads
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder.

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld.

Three Plays: Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder.

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.

The Life of Our Lord by Charles Dickens.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Matched by Allie Condie.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan.

The Lost Hero

And oh it was good. Possibly my favorite book read all year. This is exactly my kind of book. I love the mythology, I love the action and adventure, I love the characters and touch of romance, I love it all. Huge fan of new characters, Piper, Jason, and Leo. LOVE the blending of both Greek and Roman mythology. I am such a fan of Riordan's writing. He is never boring and knows how to jump right in to a story. There's no taking a few pages to get into it. In the first chapter we have electrocution, amnesia, and a jump head first into the grand canyon. You know, I liked The Red Pyramid just fine, but it was just so nice to be back in Percy's world. This book has some big surprises, and it will be another 5 book series. I don't know if I can take the anticipation! One should be released each fall. Bring on October!!! The next book is called The Son of Neptune.

Dickens, Christmas, and Christianity

We have a tradition of reading A Christmas Carol each Christmas. I love it so much. It is such a fabulous book. I love all the plays and movies and books I've read based on this story, but the original is awesome. Like Rizzo says at the end of A Muppet Christmas Carol, "If you like this, you should read the book." He's right. If you've never actually read the original Christmas Carol, you should. I loved Shannon Hale's recent blog post on this very subject. What I never thought much about before, though, was the fact that A Christmas Carol shows Dickens thoughts on Christianity and how we are all redeemable through Christ.

I've never really thought of Dickens as a religious man. If you've read some of his other novels, you know that he loves to make fun of pompous religous people. Well, this year, I decided to read a book a friend of mine reads every year (thanks Dianna!) at Christmas. It's called The Life of Our Lord and it's Dickens' retelling of Christ's life. He wrote it just for his children and refused to have it published during his lifetime. His children refused to publish it too, but once they were all gone, a grandchild finally had this published. It was such a surprise to read this! It is not in his usual tone, because he addressed it only to his children. What we get is a father's sweet feelings to his children. I thought it was beautiful and powerful.

This is the foreword he wrote to the book:

"My dear children,
I am very anxious that you should know something about the history of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about him. No one ever lived, who was so good, so kind, so gentle, and so sorry for all people who did wrong, or were in any way ill or miserable, as he was. And as he is now in Heaven, where we hope to go, and all to meet each other after we are dead, and there be happy always together, you never can think what a good place Heaven is, without knowing who he was and what he did."

Don't you love that? The whole book is full of statements like this. I never realized Dickens felt this way about Christ, but it really puts all his novels in a different light. All those characters who helped others were following Christ's example. All those people who seemed beyond help who were redeemed were a testament of Dicken's belief in redemption through the Savior.

There are a couple small doctrinal issues with the book, but certainly nothing to keep me from wanting to share it with my family. I think we may need to make this book part of our Christmas traditions as well. I guess Dickens and Christmas just go together.

I found this article written by President Hinckly on The Life of Our Lord. It's from the 1994 Ensign. Definitely worth a read.


Matched is a great new piece of dystopian fiction by an LDS author. It was very clean and very interesting. It was a bit of a mix between The Giver and The Hunger Games (without the violence). I liked this because it was original and very psychological. Most of the plot conflict takes place within the main character's - Cassia's - mind. I love that we discover along with her just exactly what is wrong with her world. The writing is beautiful and I love Ally Condie's use of poetry in the story. Fabulous. I just wish everything didn't have to be a trilogy. Do I really have to wait who knows how many more years for the second and third books before I know how this story ends? The trilogy is feeling a bit overdone to me... I guess I'm just impatient.

Three Plays by Thornton Wilder

Love this sooo much! I don't usually read plays, but I needed to read The Skin of Our Teeth for my American Lit class, and this anthology of three plays is what I got from the library. I'd read Our Town before, and decided to give it a second try, and I discovered that The Matchmaker is actually the play that the musical, Hello Dolly is based on. I loved reading all three. I'm a big Hello Dolly fan, so it was fun to read this play. Most of the best lines from the musical came straight from Thornton Wilder. Such a genius. Our Town is very touching and unexpected. Wilder had a very honest way of viewing the world, and Our Town was surprisingly spiritual. I loved this quote:

Stage Manager (p. 81): Now there are some things we all know, but we don't take'm out and look at'm very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain't houses and it ain't names, and it ain't earth, and it ain't even the stars...everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have ben telling us that for five thousand years and yet you'd be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There's something way down deep that's eternal about every human being.

Our Town is definitely a good "make you think" kind of play, but it's not heavy. It's light and funny at times and isn't always trying to hit you over the head with its message. Very good.

The Skin of Our Teeth is bizarre, but I thought it was hilarious. It has to be the strangest play I've ever heard about. For one thing, the play can't decide whether or not it takes place in the New Jersey of the 1950s, the ice age, or the time of Noah's Ark. It keeps jumping back and forth. The other thing that took me by surprise is a character named Sabina is constantly breaking out of character and addressing the audience, telling them how much she hates the play and how it doesn't make any sense. She'll suddenly break out of character and say things like, "Oh, let's skip this scene. It's awful," or, "I can't say that line; it'll hurt the feelings of a friend I have in the audience." But it's all part of the play. I had a good time reading this and digesting all the symbology and archetypes in it. Not for everybody, but I have to confess that I completely loved it.


Let me introduce you to a term you may not have heard before:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Specifically, steampunk involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain—that incorporates prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them; in other words, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne or real technologies like the computer but developed earlier in an alternate history. (definition taken from Wikipedia)

Steampunk is the latest trend in YA lit. Some of my favorite authors are trying out steampunk and there are several steampunk releases set to come out this year. Behemoth is a steampunk book by Scott Westerfeld (author of the Uglies series); it's second in a series of three (Leviathan was the first). Personally, I love it. I love all the weird technologies in this book, set at the beginning of WWI (or an alternate world's WWI, I should say). Scott Westerfeld is a compelling author, too. I was dying all book to see what would happen next. The big question was, of course, will Prince Alek realize that Midshipman Dylan is actually Deryn Sharp (classic girl in disguise as a boy plot, but it feels so original)? I won't tell you, but be ready for a serious cliffhanger. I was also a big fan of the perspicacious loris. So, so funny, and I love it when Children's books teach me new vocab words.

So, if you're in the mood for something different and fun, check out Leviathan and Behemoth. The third book, Goliath, is coming out October 2011.


This book has been circulating through YA book blogs with rave reviews, so I decided to try it out. While I agree that it was fast-paced, action-packed, and hard to put down, I had some issues with its appropriateness (or lack thereof). I try to be careful with YA books, because a lot of them are filled with sexual material, but I still read them because occasionally I find really awesome ones. This book, while there was no actual sexual content, was filled with innuendo, lust, and compromising situations. I like a good romance, but this wasn't about love, just teenage lust. I should have known, but it got such good reviews from LDS book bloggers I generally trust. But what do you do? I guess what I do is warn all my friends against it.

Spy Glass

This is the final book in Maria V. Snyder's glass trilogy. Loved it! I've had mixed feelings about some of Snyder's other books in this series/world, but this one turned out fabulously. For one, this book had my favorite character out of all six of the study/glass books: Valek, the master spy and assassin. When Valek shows up, you never know who is going to show up where in disguise. Valek trains Opal as a spy in this book, which was a fun twist in the story. I also really loved the way Opal's story ended. It was exactly what I wanted, although it wasn't a conventional ending. The only unfortunate thing about this book is that you have to read all six to really appreciate it, and the first and last are the only two that I really like. They can also be quite frightening and intense at times (there are torture scenes - definitely not my favorite) with some very mature themes. I wish I could recommend this series freely, because it has awesome parts, but I don't feel comfortable doing so. It's too bad, because I loved this book!