2013 Reading List

I have lots of book that I've purchased over the last year or two that I haven't read yet, plus I'm always picking books up at the library. I thought it would be fun to make a list of all the books I have that I'd like to read, and make a note or two about the book when I'm finished.

A book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a great way to start the year. A little romance, a little sex, a little frothy story. Delicious! (January)

I was going to take this book back to the library and get it again closer to baseball season, but when I read the flap, I couldn't resist.  This is a baseball story. It's about a father, a son and a hero. I love baseball, and I really liked this book. The baseball parts were wonderful, and I like the ending a lot. (January)

The Salt Lake County library has a Reader's Choice feature that runs twice a year. They select a couple dozen or so books and have them available at all the county libraries. You can read them and vote for your favorite. Sugarhouse was the first book I picked to read from the choices. It is about a couple who buys a fixer-upper home in the Sugarhouse neighborhood of Salt Lake City. I thought it was entertaining enough but I was kind of put off by the way he talked about Salt Lake and the people who live here. He was a little condescending, I thought. (January)

This book is another Reader's Choice selection from the library. It's the story of a woman who was the chaperone for a young Louise Brooks in New York City in the early 20s. Louise Brooks went on to become a huge movie star but the story is about the woman who was the chaperone. I liked that the chaperone, Cora, grew and developed her own ideas and found a way to have a happy life. I thought it was pretty good. (January)

A Reader's Choice selection and a damn good one. I looooooove chick lit and I looooooved this book! (January)

 Yes, another Reader's Choice selection. I picked this one because I liked the title and I totally judge books by the cover. I really enjoyed this book, too, and it made me want to eat cupcakes. (February)

I purchased this book on my Nook right after Christmas because I like the cover and the description sounded interesting. It is also a Reader's Choice nominee at the library and a Tournament of Books finalist. (More on that soon!) I really liked the way this book flowed. The story is interesting and there's a lot going on here. I liked the way the author included different stories within the story: there's a chapter of a book written by one of the characters, there's a movie pitch and there's the first scene of a play by another character. It sounds crazy, but it all works. Through it all is the story of Pasquale and Dee. it's lovely. And even though the story covers many years, beginning in 1962 and coming into the present, I never felt like I didn't know where I was in the story or who I was reading about. At the end, when the author brings it all together, it's magic. I liked it a lot! (February)

I am not a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, but I wanted to see the movie and the book was available from Barnes & Noble for a couple of dollars. I was in the mood for a nice romance, and Sparks does a good job with cheesy romance. I liked the book waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than the movie, even though the end is a little weird. (February)

This book is a finalist in the Tournament of Books. It is also the National Book Award winner of 2012. I have read several of Louise Erdrich's books, but this one was by far my favorite. Sometimes I would be reading along thinking nothing much was happening, but it came together beautifully. When I got to the end, I had to re-read the pages a few times to make sure I wasn't missing something. It left me feeling kind of sad, but what a great ride along the way. The characters were very good; the writing is great and the story is powerful. (March)

I have been interested in reading this book for quite awhile and finally remembered that I wanted to read it when I was at the library a few weeks ago. The story isn't told in chronological order and I got a little confused every now and then until I just gave up trying to figure out the sequence of things and just went with the flow. There are a lot of characters, and the two main ones don't actually meet up until somewhere in the middle of the book. I spent quite a bit of time being annoyed because I didn't feel like the story was moving along anywhere, but at the same time I was annoyed, I was pretty much enchanted by what the description of the circus and the marvelous tents. It seemed to take me a long time to get through it, but I did enjoy it and was kind of sad when it was over. (March)

My friend Nicole read this book and said to me, "Whew. Gone Girl. You should read that. It's freaky." I had the book in the back of my mind, then when I saw it was a finalist in the Tournament of Books, I decided to go for it. It was easy to find at the library, unlike some of the other TOB finalists. Anyway...this book is freaky. The two main characters are so deeply messed up. In the first part of the book, I was thinking there was something really strange about the husband, but then in the second part of the book, I thought there was something really strange about the wife, then the book takes a twist I didn't expect, and then yet another twist that I did not see coming and it ends with me just feeling kinda yucky. It is a hell of a story. Go ahead and read it. (March)

This book was a finalist in the 2013 Tournament of Books, and when I finished reading Gone Girl, I knew this had to be my next book. It was checked out at the library and the hold list was long, so I just bought it on my Nook. I read it in two days. It was delicious and enchanting and heartbreaking. It was one of those books that you can't bear to stop reading, but you don't want to finish because you will be finished and the characters will be out of your life. I'm completely in love with Gus and Hazel. I'm happy that I own this book because I think it is one that I will read again. It's awesome. Read it. (March)

 I have a bit of a Jane Austen fetish, I think. Now, I haven't read all seven of Jane's novels, (I've read three) but I do own them, so I could read them at any given time. The thing is that I like to read about how other people like Jane Austen. Is that weird? Syrie James wrote another book about Jane Austen that I really liked, so I thought I would like this one too, and I did. It is a novel within a novel. The leading lady in this book is an Austen historian and she winds up finding a long-lost, never-before-seen manuscript written by Jane Austen. It just so happens that the manuscript is found at an old English estate owned by a hot English guy. Far-fetched? Sure, but it all worked for me. (April)

This book really drew me in from the start. It's about this old white lady who asks her African-American hairdresser to drive her from Dallas to Cincinnati for a funeral. Along the way, the old lady tells the story of her youth and the love of her life, an African-American guy. Their love was frowned upon in 1940 Kentucky. I fell in love with Isabelle and Robert and yesterday morning, as I was sipping my chai latte and eating toast, I finished the book. I haven't cried so hard over a book since Dumbledore died in Half Blood Prince. I'm telling you, I was a wet, soggy, snotty mess of a girl, sitting at my dining room table, wailing over this story. Not just sobbing, either. There were times when I put my head down and pounded on the table in my angst. I'm glad no one was around to see that. Still, it was a fantastic story. It was so amazing to get so involved in the story and with the characters. I'm glad I read it. (April)

I found this book at the library on the Reader's Choice table. The plot is that a woman who has been married 20 years is finding herself sort of feeling removed from her husband, so she agrees to participate in an on-line marriage survey. She proceeds to have feelings for the researcher who is gathering her answers. There's also her thoughts on her kids and her friends and herself. Felt a little close to home sometimes, but it's quite funny and reminds me a lot of a certain movie that I really like. (April)

I got this book on my Nook because I knew I wanted to read it before the movie came out, which I did. (Finished the book this morning, saw the movie in the afternoon.) It's a short novel, only about 135 pages. I liked the descriptions that Fitzgerald gave of the parties and of Daisy and her voice in particular. Reading a book written that long ago is different from reading a book written today. The language is the same, but the phrasing is different. Sometimes I got a little lost in the prose, but the story is good. The characters generally aren't that likable to me. I didn't like Daisy at all or Tom either, for that matter. Maybe that's the point.  (May)

I love John Green. He is such a great writer! His market is young adult readers, but man, he tells a good story with interesting, quirky characters. I didn't love this book as much as I loved The Fault in Our Stars, but I still found it to be really cute and fun and easy to read and likable. He has a few more books out there that I will read as soon as I find them in the library. His books are hard to find because he so great. Please read a John Green book. You will be happy you did! (May)

Front Cover

Julia Alvarez is a good writer. This is the second book of hers that I have read. She writes about the Dominican Republic, one of my favorite places, so I find it interesting to read about the people and the struggles the country has endured. This book is about the four girls and it's told in reverse chronological order. One of the girls tells her story in first person, but even that wasn't really enough to distinguish the voices of the girls. I still liked it, though. (May)

I'm not sure whether I'm sad or glad that Dan Brown is not a prolific writer. Maybe if he wrote as many books as say, John Grisham, it wouldn't be as exciting when a new Dan Brown book came out. On the other hand, it's hard to wait so long in between books. His books are just so compelling, I have a hard time putting them down once I get into it.  This book takes place in Italy, further exciting me about going there next year. I cannot wait to see Florence after reading this book! I liked this book better than The Lost Symbol, but not as much as The DaVinci Code. (June)

I judged this book by it's cover and I wanted to read it, then I read the words on the back and I was hooked. The Paris Wife is the story of Hadley Richardson, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway. The story is told from Hadley's perspective and sometimes I forgot that it was a work of fiction. It was kind of slow going at first, I'll admit. Then I really started to like Hadley and the love story was pretty great, until it wasn't, then it was just sad. I had to Google Hadley Richardson because I just had to know what she really looked like. Then I read her Wikipedia biography and Ernest Hemingway's Wikipedia biography and now I'm all fired up to read a Hemingway book, specifically The Sun Also Rises because he wrote it at the time he and Hadley were together and gave her all the royalties from the book when they divorced. (Oops! Spoiler.) It was interesting to read about what life was like in Paris in the 20s. First The Great Gatsby and now this book and then The Sun Also Rises? I may be going through a little phase. (June)

I went ahead and bought this book because I was all fired up to read it after I finished The Paris Wife. I liked The Paris Wife much better. Here's the thing, and I found this to be true about The Great Gatsby also: I didn't really like the characters. I'm sure not all people were jerks in the 1920's, but the characters created by Hemingway and Fitzgerald were mostly drunken boors. (I had to look up the word "boors" to make sure that's the word I wanted. It was. It means a person with rude, clumsy manners and little refinement.) The book was written in three parts: first in Paris, then in Pamplona and finally in San Sebastian and Madrid. The Pamplona part was the most interesting. The descriptions of the bullfighting were very good. I also liked the part where Jake and Bill went fishing in Burguete. Hemingway's descriptions of the countryside were great, but the dialogue - not so much. (June)

I bought this book (on my Nook) on Friday night and I finished it late Sunday night. It was the perfect mind candy for the weekend. The other book I'm reading is almost guaranteed to be a tear-jerker, and I was already feeling vulnerable, so I figured this book would be light and fluffy and fun. And it was. I've read all three of the Inn Boonsboro books, and I liked them all. Thanks, Nora Roberts, for the perfect weekend read. (June)

I got this book for my birthday last month. I put off reading it because the previous book I read by this author (The Kite Runner) was so emotional that I still think about it and I wasn't sure if I was ready to take on that kind of emotional commitment. (That's the same reason I haven't read his second book A Thousand Splendid Suns.)  The thing is, though, that although there is a lot of emotion in this book, it's not the same as The Kite Runner. This book involves many characters whose stories weave together but are beautiful on their own. The writing is rich and lush and I felt empathy and emotion for all of the characters. My very most favorite part involves Markos and the narrative that happens as he counts to 125 while taking a photo of Thalia. It is so vivid and so engaging and tells such a complete story that it sort of took my breath away. I am in awe of Khaled Hosseini. What an amazing writer. (July)

This book was on my Nook. It was probably in the "$2.99 and Under" section of Barnes&Noble.com; that's usually where I buy books. It's not a bad story, but it was a little too God-y for me. I mostly liked it, but it wasn't my favorite. (July)

I think my mom read this book and I thought it sounded cute. Then it showed up on the Barnes & Noble "$2.99 and Under" list, so I bought it for my Nook. I liked the characters, but they were a little annoying. They were attracted to each other, but each thought the other was just playing them. Finally they got it on in the chocolate shop and the rest is history. On Goodreads, there was a review by Alex M that was so funny, I have to share it with you. This is Alex's summary of an early part of the book:

And then he used his manly sex hands to chop sexy chocolate like sex. The sexy curls of dark chocolate sexily dropped to the sexy marble counter of sex. He smoldered sexily at her, his sexy dark hair perfect around his sexy face. 'Sex,' he said to her, 'sex, sex, sex.' And then they did it. On the floor. Next to the sexy unprocessed chocolate.

That just about sums it up. I laughed so hard at that review, I might have to follow Alex on Goodreads.  Anyway, this book is silly and fluffy and fun, so if you have a day or two and want something light, read it. (July)

I think I started reading this book on Thursday night. I finished it on Sunday. It was 610 pages long, but it read so fast and so beautifully that it was all I could do to put it down this weekend to do some household chores. I loved this book. I love Anna and TJ. The premise is that a 30 year old woman (Anna) agrees to tutor a nearly 17 year old guy (TJ) while they spend the summer with his family at a rental vacation house in the Maldives. Their plane crashes in the Indian Ocean. Anna and TJ wash up on a deserted island where they are stranded for three years. A large portion of the book focuses on how they survive while on the island. It's kind of like the movie Castaway, except they don't have to talk to a volleyball because they have each other. The story is terrific. The writing is good. The characters are wonderful. I liked everything about it! (July)

It was kind of hard to choose a book to read after On the Island, so I decided to go with this Liza Palmer book that I had on my Nook. I have read another book by Palmer, Seeing Me Naked, and I remember that I liked it very much. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for More Like Her. I didn't really care for the characters. I thought Frannie was kind of whiny, Jill was annoying and Lisa was over-the-top. Also, there is a twist in the story that I didn't expect and it was pretty awful and which didn't make Frannie any less whiny although after the twist she actually had a reason to be whiny.  I just didn't like it very much. (August)

Ugh. When I read the description on the back of the book, I was hoping it would have a little of the magic of Like Water for Chocolate, but no. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is about a girl who can taste the feelings of the cook in the food. That would be fine, but then it goes on so that she can identify what state particular food products are grown in and the feelings of the farmer that picked the produce. Then there's this weird thing with her brother who becomes furniture. There was no feeling good in this book. The mom does her own thing; the dad is distant; the brother turns into a chair; the girl can't eat food except from one particular restaurant. I did not like this book. (August)

I'm kind of on a losing streak with books lately. I felt pretty confident that this Barbara Kingsolver book would break the streak. While it was better than the last two books I read, I didn't love it. It was about monarch butterflies that end up mysteriously in Tennessee. The butterflies are discovered by a lady named Dellarobia who is unhappy with her home life. Her discontent with her husband and his family is a constant theme in the book. It was kind of a downer. What else was a downer was that the butterflies went to Tennessee because of global warming so they were confused. The monarchs would become extinct if they didn't get out of Tennessee before it snowed and got cold. I slogged through the book and I was glad to be done. (August)

Man, I love me some chick lit! Finally, a book that I could read with joyous abandon, knowing that the boy and the girl would fall in love and everything would be ok. Maybe I'm simple, but I like that kind of thing. There's enough real life in real life; I don't always need to read about it in a book. In this story, I liked the girl and I liked the boy. I liked their chemistry and I liked the story. I liked it! (September)

It's Reader's Choice time at the library again! I have actually had this book on my radar for awhile and I was glad to pick it up at the library. It's about a young woman who goes to work at a woman's magazine. Her assignment is to find the 500 women who have been named one of the Ten Girls to Watch by the magazine. The story revolves around her life at work and her personal life. I liked the story and the characters. There are some good lines and thoughts in the book. I was very satisfied with this book. (September)

When I first started to read this, all I could think was, "Yahoo! I'm reading a J.K. Rowling book!" That feeling started to wear off and I just got really involved in the story and the characters and trying to figure out whodunnit. I don't usually choose mystery stories, and I admit I only read this one because it was written by J.K. Rowling, but I did enjoy the heck out of it and if she writes more books about Strike, I would read those, too. (September)

This is my third John Green book this year. He's a fantastic writer. This story is about a kid from Florida who goes to boarding school in Alabama and meets up with some interesting friends, including a girl named Alaska. Pranks, romance, drinking, smoking and tragedy ensue. Once again John Green creates characters that are interesting and flawed and pretty wonderful I liked this book, but I still think Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" cannot be beat. (October)

This book was a finalist in the 2013 Tournament of Books and is now a Readers Choice option at my local library. I liked the cover and the teaser sounded pretty good, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's a funny story, written mostly in the form of emails and notes and letters. Bernadette is a nut. Her husband is a workaholic; her daughter is smart and funny and then she goes a little bit nutty too, after Bernadette disappears. There's a neighbor who starts out annoying and ends up going a little crazy. It mostly takes place in Seattle but there's also some time spent in Antarctica. It's entertaining as all get out. (October)

Another Readers Choice selection. It's a story set in the late '80's about a girl, June, who is dealing with the death of her favorite uncle from AIDS. Sometimes books just grab you and pull you right in; others take their time. I loved this book from the first page. I liked the way it was written; I liked the characters; I liked the story. I cried and I giggled and I was sad when the story was over. (October)

You guessed it...another Readers Choice selection. It took me almost 100 pages to get into the story and the characters, and even then I wasn't completely into them. My rule is to give a book 100 pages and then I can decide to abandon or continue. Since I didn't completely hate it I kept reading until I was done. The story takes place in the Ohio in the 50s. There really wasn't much I could relate to. The main character, Donna, had a really mean grandma, a drunk dad and an ill little brother. It was all right. (October)

Yep, a Readers Choice selection. The story is set on the island of Chappaquiddick which is near Martha's Vineyard near Nantucket. For some reason, I tend to really enjoy books set in that part of the country. I've never been there, but it seems like it might be nice, especially in the off-season. It sounds like there are literally thousands of people that go there in the summer. Anyway, this story is about a woman who has cancer and is going through a divorce so see stays on the island and meets a man, a hermit actually, who she befriends and they fall in love and have a falling out and get back together. I didn't mind the story, but I didn't love it either. (October)

I had a hard time getting into this book at first. The main character was kind of prickly (dare I say thorny?) and set in her ways. As the story rolls along, though, Gal - that's the main character - opens up, like a rose, and becomes more in touch with the people around her and with her own feelings. At first there was a lot of words about breeding roses, but as the story progressed, even though roses were still a big part of the story, it moved from how much time Gal spent tending her roses to how much time Gal was spending with her friends and family. That's when I was hooked. I liked how the author brought her character along like her character brought along her roses to try to find beautiful characteristics in the flowers and in Gal. (November)

If I remember correctly, this book was a Friday freebie from Barnes & Noble for my Nook. I've been reading it off and on for quite awhile, but I recently really got into it. I have the Nook app on my beloved iPhone, and I always have my beloved iPhone with me, so it was already there. At first I didn't really care for this book because I thought it was a little cheesy. The protagonist is Scarlett and she loves movies and goes to spend a month in London to basically see if she can live out movie scenes in real life. The thing that made it all bearable was that the movies she likes are movies that I like, so I could easily recall the scenes from the movies. Yes, it was cheesy and predictable, but it was also harmless and friendly, not unlike the romantic comedies the story is based upon. (November)

This book is the winner of 2013 Tournament of Books, which is where I first heard about it. It beat out my favorite book this year, The Fault in Our Stars. The two books could not be more different. The Orphan Master's Son (TOMS) takes place in North Korea. I don't know a darn thing about North Korea, and I don't know if I know any more about the country now than I did before. I'm sure there was a generous dose of imagination in the story, but there's probably some truth, too. It's a mysterious place, isn't it, North Korea? The story is interesting. It took me awhile, nearly three weeks - slow for me - to get through it. It was pretty troubling to think that a nation would do some of the things described in this book to its people, and I think that's what slowed me down. It was hard to relate to and I kept wondering if it was real or something more Orwellian. I think I do a little better with lighter fare, but I'm glad I read it. Did I mention this book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year? This may be the first time I've read a Pulitzer prize winning novel. (November)

I loved this book. I loved Will and Louisa. Just read it and tell me thanks. Be sure to have a box of tissues nearby. You'll need them. (November)

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a long time. I bought the paperback at Barnes & Noble on their Buy 2 Get 1 table. I think it was Readers Choice selection a year or two ago and I didn't get to it. When I finished Me Before You, this book caught my eye and I dove in. It didn't go down as easily as the book I read before it. The main character, Victoria, is a little prickly and hard to like. She had a crappy life, but it seems like things are starting to go well for her, but she won't allow herself to feel happiness and it's really sad. It's sad in a whole different way from Me Before You, though. I didn't cry during this book at all even though I feel like I should have. I thought it was all right overall and some parts I really liked. (December)

One of the first books I bought for my Nook was a collection of 25 classic stories and The Secret Garden was in the collection. I've never read this book before, and for some reason, it just called to me. I totally loved it. My favorite was Mary and Colin's transformation. When they started thinking happy, positive thoughts and being outside in the garden, their whole outlook of life changed. It was sweet. (December)

I have read several books by this author, Adriana Trigiani. This book was just what I was in the mood for. The first part of the book was set in Italy, in a little village in the Alps. Ciro and Enza meet as teenagers and feel a connection. Ciro is forced to go to the United States; Enza goes to the US a few years later. Their paths cross a few times in New York City and they end up...well, I won't tell you in case you want to read it yourself. I'm sure you can guess. I liked this book quite a lot. I liked the characters and reading about their lives. There were even a few times when I wiped my eyes. (December)

This novella is a follow-up to one of my favorite books I read this year, On the Island. I didn't really need this book to complete the first book,  but it was enjoyable and easy and kind of made me want to read On the Island again. If you haven't read On the Island, this little novella won't mean much to you. (December)

This book was pure chick lit. Generally chick lit has a pretty simple plot: girl has some kind of mess in her life and needs to start over. She moves to a new place, meets a guy that she doesn't like but is extremely attracted to, sexual tension smolders until the couple has hot, steamy passionate sex, the couple thinks they are falling in love, even though they know it's all wrong, something happens to show them that it's all wrong, but love perseveres and they live happily ever after. At least that's how it worked out in this book. It took a long, long time for the couple to get to the passionate sex in this story and by then I almost didn't care anymore. It was a quick easy read during the holiday break. (December)

1 comment:

Kteach said...

There's a few books I've read, and some I haven't. As you know I like happy, fluffy books. But I enjoy reading your comments, and sometimes one that catches my eye, I will request from the library.