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Topic: *~*~*What's your book of the month/year for 2010*~*~*

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Subject: *~*~*What's your book of the month/year for 2010*~*~*
Date Posted: 12/31/2009 12:49 PM ET
Member Since: 9/26/2005
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Starting the new year right!   This is the place to list your favorite reads of the month and what your best read of the year was for 2010!  No requirements on genre or publication date or anything, just a place to say "gee, this book was great, you should read it too!"


I will try to keep a list on the front page of who is on what page so you can update your list throughout the year!



Last Edited on: 7/26/10 3:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 44
Date Posted: 12/31/2009 12:50 PM ET
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Space for my 2010 list:



THE WINNER: The Help by Kathryn Stockett...good start, good read.

Jan    Dark Places by Gillian Flynn....this was a dark book about the survivor of a brutal murder of her family (and she testified against her brother in the murder trial).    Not very nice characters throughout, but was the only book this month that somewhat made me think.

Feb The Lace Reader by Barry....not the book I expected it to be, but it was good in it's own way! Story of a young lady going back home to Salem Mass and integrated w/her grandmother's guide to reading lace. Was a recommended book here from others and sat on my shelf far too long!

March The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy...haunting story of two children in Nazi occupied Poland. My first read of the month but really stuck with me.

April Are You There Vodka? It's Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler....funny stories from a funny lady...read it on the airplane and was laughing out loud...definitely some liberal use of language and such though! She was just what I needed at just the right time!

May Tomato Girl .by Jayne Pupek.....sad story of a girl stuck between her mother's mental illness and her father's abandonment.

June Born Under a Million Shadows by Buslfield...about Afghanistan from the perspective of a native boy.

July...read alot of books....fluff.... but one epic book seems to be the best of the larger works that I read this month...Cutting for Stones which was about twin orphans born to an Indian nun and British surgeon in Ethiopia. Somewhat rambling but still good.

Aug The Help by Kathryn Stockett...good start, good read.

Sept...no winner this month...swedish girl w/a tattoo took too long to read and didn't do much for me....

Oct Little Bee by Chris Cleave...wandering tale of an African refugee in England...story was OK, but I found some quotes that I will carry with me for a long time..."a scar is not ugly...a scar isbeautiful because it means you survived" also liked Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha...about a family affected by death of their son

Nov Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent...interesting take on the Salem Witch Trials from a young girl...some actual history mixed in w/the fiction made interesting read, though the first 100 pages made me want to give up, but got much better halfway thru.

Dec Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner...senator wife's story after he cheats...not her best work, but I didn't read much this month w/the holidays and don't think I'll finish the book that I really want to pick for December (it will be January's pick)....so that's why I didn't link this one. It was OK, but characters were predictable.

Last Edited on: 12/30/10 10:50 AM ET - Total times edited: 15
Date Posted: 12/31/2009 1:55 PM ET
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January:Shanghai Girls- Lisa See

Febraury: 0 books read

March: Love is a Mix Tape- Rob Sheffield

April: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest- Stieg Larsson

May: Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins

June: Leaving Paradise- Simone Elkeles

July: Arcadia Falls- Carol Goodman

August: The Duff- Kody Keplinger

September: MockingJay- Suzanne Collins

October: The Weight of Silence- Heather Gudenkauf

November: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Jane by April lindner

December: Juliet by Ann Fortier

Book of the Year The DUFF- It was just too much of a fun read, and I loved the characters.

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Date Posted: 12/31/2009 2:47 PM ET
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I'd like to join you for 2010.  I'll be really interested to see everyone else's picks.

Book of the Year: Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

January:  The Magician (Penguin Classics)  by W. Somerset Maugham

No, it's not one of his most critically acclaimed works, but I thought it was a good story.  I tend to like good vs. evil fantasy type stories as long as they aren't too creepy or too scary.  I thought it was slow-going at the beginning, and I wasn't satisfied with the ending, but all in all I enjoyed it. 

February: The Know-It-All : One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs.

I picked this book because it was just so fun to go through it. I enjoyed the humor, and I learned some interesting information along the way.

March: Epileptic by David B.

I think this book is an excellent example of the power that graphic media can have. Words alone could never have had the same kind of impact.

April: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

I'm not sure if I would have I chosen this book if I had the print rather than the audio version, but Jim Dale's rendition of "Weasley Is Our King" will stay with me for a long time.

May: Emma Brown by Clare Boylan

The first two chapters of this book were written by Charlotte Bronte, so they left me wanting more Bronte. I had to step back from that idea so that I could enjoy the book in its own right. The story was interesting, and I liked the 19th century feel of the book. I can't help but wonder though what the story would have been if Charlotte Bronte had lived to complete the book herself.

June: Fool by Christopher Moore

It's like Shakespeare, only raunchy. :)

July: The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch

I thought this book was interesting and found the problem goes far beyond what I expected.

August: Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis

This satire of the American middle class waspublished in 1922, but I was often struckby thecontemporary feel of the book.

September: Call it Sleep by Henry Roth

This book gets inside the mind of a Jewish immigrant boy in a New York ghetto. I found the book difficult to read at times because of both the writing style and the content, but it was well worth the effort.

October: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I found this book to be a fascinating look at the psychoogical anguish of a criminal.

November: Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

I really wasn't expecting to pick this book for the month. I hardly realized I liked it until the end. I thought telling a story through the guise of an academic commentary to a poem was a brilliant idea. I loved the ambiguous ending and the unreliable narrator.

December: The Catswold Portal by Shirley Rousseau Murphy

I got sucked into the world of the Catswold. This book is fun if you like cat fantasy.

Last Edited on: 12/31/10 8:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 29
Date Posted: 12/31/2009 4:20 PM ET
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I'm in.

January:  On Bear Mountain by Deborah Smith. A book that's been on my TBR for maybe 3 years.  A southern romance with grit and heart.

(I listed print and audio last year, and can't believe that I've not listened to one single remarkable audio book this whole month.  I listened to many books, all of the new-age self-help type.  And while there are many I really enjoy, I just had a run of mediocre heard-it-all-before audios.)

February: The Day the World Came to Town 911 in Gander, Newfoundland. Geez, another amazing book about wonderful people that makes you wish so much that you'd do more with your life for fellow humanity.

(Another month with no good audios to list, though I've got a few I could rate as my most hated audios!)

March: Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon. I found this on the home page and ordered on a whim...love the cover. A murder-mystery which I don't really read anymore, but quite enjoyed. Very well written. A page-turner.

And, for Audio--tada! Coal Run by Tawni O'Dell, read by Daniel Passer. Very good, gritty tale from the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Well-written, and excellently narratted.

April: Charity Girl by Michael Lowenthal. A very different plot, "Charity Girl is based on an ugly, little-known chapter in American history that saw fifteen thousand women across the nation incarcerated" in detention centers for woman with veneral diseases.

And my audio pick is Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, narrated by Janet Song. I've read all of Lisa See's books, then listened to the audios, which absolutely sing when read by Janet Song. (Couldn't resist.)

May: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Could really change your life for the better. Highly recommended.

And my audio pick is: 100 Secret Senses by Amy Tan. She read this herself and was absolutely amazing! I had read this years ago, and eagerly listened to it. Oh, do pick up a copy.

I am adding this one late as I'd forgotten it was listened to in May. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had read the book and really liked it, but oh, my...I loved loved loved listening to her reading it herself. She knew just what to emphasize, when to lament, when to chuckle.

June: No print book really stood out. But for audio, without a doubt, my best listen was The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Narrated by a dog and very plausibly done.

July: Now, granted, these are NOT earth-shattering, soon to be classics, but they are just darn good books. Soft and sweet and I really did enjoy them. Adriana Trigiani's Rococo in print. And for audio, my pick was Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia. Unfortunately, it was an abridged version. I'd have loved to have heard the full book. I also really liked Diary of a Psychic: Shattering the Myths by Sonia Choquette. A fine, very interesting memoir that didn't blame the parents for anything bad!

August: Adriana Trigiani's Big Stone Gap.

September: Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani.

October: Don't Leave Me This Way : Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry by Julia Fox Garrison. Wow, what a story, what an amazing, determined woman!

For audio, the most amazing book, superbly read by a cast of characters: The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

November: I just love Lois Lowry's YA books. And my pick for November in print is her A Summer to Die. So sad, but not a bit maudlin.

December: Here are my two for December, and while I liked each, neither was a really great book. In print Glenn Beck's The Christmas Sweater. In audio, it was Bill O'Reilly's Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity.

Now, I like both men, and absolutely loved their Bold Fresh tour, which was not political, but more like a comedy show. The Sweater was going along nicely, better than most of these little Christmas books. No sap. Then came the turning point, the denouement. Whoa! No! No! We don't use gimmicks in serious writing...this is a trick of many new writers that is absolutely unacceptable and would never get published. How did this happen?

And as for O'Reilly, yes, one does see how he deserves pats on the back for his charity work, his integrity, his lack of drug use when growing up during the day...etc. But good grief, all the back-patting gets old....


My print book of the year: The Day the World Came to Town 911 in Gander, Newfoundland. Another amazing book about wonderful people that makes you wish so much that you'd do more with your life for fellow humanity.

And I have to mention honorable mention that missed only by a hair: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Could really change your life for the better.

I just can't pick my audio of the year! How can I say The Art of Racing in the Rain, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time, isn't a tad higher in my estimation than that incredible, so-human story, The Help? Or the other way around? How could either beat out a book I've loved for years, A Hundred Secret Senses, and just got to hear perfectly read by Amy Tan? Throw in the marvelous work of Elizabeth Gilbert in reading her own Eat, Pray, Love, and I am just flummoxed!

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Date Posted: 12/31/2009 4:51 PM ET
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Whoooooo, a spot on page one this year!! LOL

January: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins (audio version) A++!!

February: SMALL FAVOR by Jim Butcher (audio version) A difficult choice this month; several great reads but nothing really "stood out."

March: A tie...I had like FIVE A+ books this month! Tie between A RULE AGAINST MURDER by Louise Penny and HOOD by Stephen R. Lawhead.

April: Another tie--both audio versions: FINDING NOUF by Zoe Ferraris and THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN'S BAG by Alan Bradley.

May: MOONLIGHT DOWNS by Adrian Hyland a great mystery set in the Australian outback

June: A tie! JUNKYARD DOGS by Craig Johnson and KUSHIEL'S AVATAR by Jacqueline Carey

July: BONESHAKER by Cherie Priest Steampunk with zombies! Sweet!

August: Another tie! THE CALLING by Inger Ash Wolfe and THE FOURTH WATCHER by Timothy Hallinan, both mysteries, very different styles.

September: MEDICUS by Ruth Downie (historical mystery set in Roman-occupied Britain)

October: CHANGES by Jim Butcher (Harry Dresden series, audio version)

November: A VIGIL OF SPIES by Candace Robb (most recent in the Owen Archer historical mystery series)

December: CHRISTMAS MOURNING by Margaret Maron

BOOK OF THE YEAR: I almost always have a difficult time picking just one, but this year, one does stand above the rest: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. I read the two others that followed it, and while the three as a set told the complete story, I don't think either of the followups were as powerful as the first one.


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Date Posted: 12/31/2009 5:29 PM ET
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January: The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell. Excellent historical fiction about the wars between King Alfred the Great and the Danes. A flawed but likeable hero, great historical detail, and exciting battle scenes. Honorable mention to Luncheon of the Boating Party - a little wordy at times but overall very interesting.

February: Stitches by David Small. Very good graphicmemoir about the author's childhood. I don't read a lot of graphic novels. At first I was skimming the illustrations to get to the words but then I realized the illustrations conveyed as much, perhaps more, than the words.Small isa gifted illustrator. His choice of mediumperfectly captured thevoiceless element of his story.

March - Stone from the River by Ursula Hegi. WW2 era historical fiction set in Germany and from the unique POV of a dwarf. Great characters andwonderful historical and cultural details.

April - The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. Fascinating and extremely well-told historical fiction about the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III. The historical details were first-rate.

May - I read some great books this month - my two favorites were This Body of Death by Elizabeth George and Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides. This Body of Death has great characters, wonderful plot twists and a deftly woven plot. Blood and Thunder is historical nonfiction at its best - interesting and well told details of the development of the American West.

June - Sharon Kay Penman's Medieval Mystery series - I started out liking the series and am completely enamored after finishing the fourth installment. Penman writes some of the best dialogue I have found among current authors. Honorable mention to The Red Badge of Courage - I enjoyed it much more as an adult than as a high schooler :-)

July - I read two great books this month, Shackleton's Forgotten Expedition, The Voyage of the Nimrod by Beau Riffenburgh - well researched and very well told historical nonfiction about Shackleton's first led voyage. He aptly captured the time period and prevailing beliefs of the time period which made the details of the voyage very relevant - great insight. Swordat Sunsetby Rosemary Sutcliff was equally captivating

August -No truly outstanding books this month, but both of these are worthy of mentioning: City of Darkness, City of Light ? Marge Piercy - Set during the French Revolution, Piercy tells the story through six personal POVs, four real people and two representative of the time period. Well written IMHO. I also enjoyed The Story of the Titanic As Told By Its Survivors. It did become repetitious as many survivors told their stories which were very similar to others in their same boat/vicinity. The first two stories, almost novellas, were especially interesting and keyed in on many facts and detailed observations. I liked that it was written not long after the tragedy so the words fitted the time frame and many "significant at the time" events were mentioned.

September - Again, no truly outstanding books this month. The best two I read were The Help by Stockett - the ending was a little flat but overall it was an interesting book that I liked. Another I enjoyed was The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson. Fantastic characters and a good mystery - I'm looking forward to reading more of the series.

October - The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. Rags to riches story with a timeless theme. The power of the land and money and its trappings are well told. I enjoyed getting to know the characters. Honorable mention to an excellent children's story I read this month: The Truth About Sparrows. An inspiring story about the Depression and how parents as well as children coped through this difficult time period.

November - I read eight books this month and none were truly outstanding. The best of the bunch was Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. Engaging YAhistorical fiction set during WW1. Hattie is an orphaned,plucky girl who tries to make good on her uncle's 320 acre homesteadclaim in Montana.

December - I read 12 books this month thanks to the holidays. This is getting to be an oft repeated phrase this year but again, no truly outstanding books. The best of the lot was an oldie and for me, a goodie. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - I have never read the entire book, just bits and pieces and was pleasantly surprised with this novel.

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Saving a spot for me too!

January:  Hands down, The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak.  I cannot say enough good things about this book.  Lyrical, moving, touching, thought-provoking.  One of those books that just makes you want to slow down and savor it--like a really good piece of cake.  Honorable mention:  Velva Jean Learns To Drive by Jennifer Niven.  It's about a small mountain community during the 1930s, during the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The characters have stayed with me, and there was a great sense of place in this novel.

February: This was a bad reading month! I was sort of in a slump, with one of the only books I read being a reread of The Book Thief. Since I don't want to list that book twice, I will have to go with Little Bee by Chris Cleave. There were some parts that were truly remarkable and made me think. It's about a horrific event that occurs on a Nigerian beach, with the main characters being a British couple and two sisters. Not the best book I have ever read about Africa, but an honorable mention.

March: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson. Interesting characters, good mystery. Bought the next one and ready to read it.

April: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. It was interesting, sad, and moving.

May: Lover Mine by J.R. Ward. Loved John Matthew's story!

June: The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs--entertaining, eye-opening, and funny.

July: Playing With Fire by Gena Showalter. Pure fluff, but funny and fast.

August: The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall. Polygamy from the man's point of view as well as the woman's. Funny, touching, sad. Really good.

September: Still Alice by Lisa Genova. A heartbreaker about a professor who gets early onset Alzheimer's Disease. Very touching.

October: Hard for me to believe, but I only read two books this month. Not typical at all! The two I read were both good, even though I found flaws with both. So, I guess I am going to go with Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin over Roomby Emma Donoghue. The characters in Letter were more fully realized and well drawn. I enjoyed reading about them very much. The "mystery" was so easy to figure out--that was the flaw.

November: Roseflower Creek by Jackie Lee Miller. Heartbreaking tale of child abuse.

December: The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head by Dr. Gary Small. Fascinating account of a psychiatrist's most interesting cases.

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Wow! I cannot believe I have to choose. My favorite was The Book Thief with The Lonely Polygamist a close second. Both were AWESOME!

Last Edited on: 12/29/10 5:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 14
Subject: Latest Reviews
Date Posted: 12/31/2009 5:54 PM ET
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Agreat forum!!

Book of the Year List

January:  An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon- This is the 7th book in the Outlander series.  I listened to this series which were all narrated by Davina Porter.  Ms. Porter has a wonderful English accent and Scottish brogue which is perfect for the main characters Jamie Fraser who is a Scottish Highlander and Claire Randall an English nurse.  Jamie is from the 18th century and Claire from the 20th century.  The theme of this series is the chance meeting of Jamie and Claire, their enduring love, the historical times in which they travel, and their family relationships.  Diana Gabaldon is a wonderful writer. Her rich dialogue and creative flair have made this book and series a memorable read. Rating 5 of 5

February: The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova- I listened to the audio of the Swan Thieves and truly enjoyed the narrators which included Treat Williams and Ann Heche. This is a beautiful novel of love, art, and relationships and an unresolved mystery. The story centers around an artist Robert Oliver obsessed with a French Impressionist painter to the point where he tries to attack a painting at the National Gallery. The story follows his ex-wife Kate, his psychiatrist, Andrew Marlow, and his ex girlfriend Mary and the search to uncover his obsession. I truly was impressed by the dialogue and prose in this novel and the details around the life of artists. I enjoyed the book and the characters and am very interested in reading more about French Impressionism. Importantly I was impacted by this book to look at works of art in a totally new light. I loved The Historian which was the author's first novel. If you did not like The Historian this may not be for you however I would recommend as a thoughtful wonderful story moving between the late 19th century to the present. Rating 4 of 5.

March: Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin: I listened to the audio of this book about Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves who was the model for Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. This book was both disturbing and tragic as you follow the 7 year old Alice, and her relationship with Charles Dodgeson i.e. Lewis Carroll. Thetwo havea platonic relationship but as a result of the social mores of the time there is a break with Alice and the Lidell family which impacts Alice for the rest of her life. Alice matures, marries and has three boys. With the advent of WWI Alice must endure all three of her boys heading into the service. Ms. Benjamin has blended the true story of Alice Liddell witha fictionalized account of Alice and Lewis Carroll's relationship.It was also very interesting to read about the roles of woman in society and the social codes which had to be followed to ensure a good marriage and status in society. A very good read. Rating 4 of 5

April:The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin- our book club read this book which was a combination blog of Gretchen Rubin who wanted to find out how to be happier and book to provide guidance to other readers. We all agreed we found the observations behind the Happiness principles, and the Secrets to Adulthood happiness principles worth noting and remembering. We also enjoyed the quotes she referenced and the fact that to be happy did not require life changing but small adjustments in our daily lives. Rating 3 of 5

May: Dracula: by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt- I thought I would try this book after seeing it was written by the great grand nephew of Bram Stoker. I listened to the audio version which was narrated by Simon Prebble. The story takes place 25 years later focusing on Mina and Jonathan Harker's son Quincy and the lives of Van Helsing, Dr. JohnSeward, andAuthor Holmwood.Each of the original characters are being murdered. The question is by who?Is Dracula still alive? The sequel followsa new vampire Elizabeth Bthory who tortured and murdered countless young women and bathes in the blood of virgins to prolong her youth. Bram Stoker himself is even brought into the story. I enjoyed the new story line although it quite different from the original novel. The ending was a bit contrived however overall it wasa fast paced fun read. Thereare sexual scenes which may be a bit squeamish for readers. I did read some reviews of this book and it seemsdie hard fans of the original Dracula are "not enamored" of this version. It does indeed follow the story line of the movie Dracula with Winona Ryder and Gary Oldman. Rating 3 of 5

June: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest by Steig Larsson- I have listened to all three books in this series and loved all of the books. This third novel in the trilogy brought many loose ends on Lisbeth Salander's life story to conclusion.Mikael Blomkvistthe journalist who in this story is trying to save her from a murder conviction only communicates with her on line.This does not diminish the story but keeps you on the edge of your seat. Steig Larsson does an excellent job setting up the stories and weaves an intricate mystery with great characters. I just watched the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which was the first book in the series and loved it. I can't recommend this series enough. Steig Larsson takes you on a wild ride through the series and the unexpected twists are why the books are so very good. You need to read the books in order.Rating 5 of 5.

July: Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush- I listened to this book about the life of Laura Bush which was also narrated by Mrs. Bush. I truly enjoyed this story of Mrs. Bush's life in Texas, the tragedy of the car accident at age 17 which took a young man's life and her overwhelming grief, her parents and importantly her relationship with her husbandGeorge, her daughters and her role as First Lady. Mrs. Bush is a very classy lady and described her work with women and their lives in the Middle East , her pain for her husband with the hate comments about the Iraq War andthe management of Katrina. As you listen to this book you realize what a strong relationship she has with her husband and family. I also enjoyed the stories of visits to the White House by other foreign leaders,interactions with members of Congressher own family and the dedication made to support her drive for children to read and her support of libraries. Rating 5 of 5

August: The Passage by Justin Cronin- I listened to this book and although I am not a fan of the post apocalyptic genre I really enjoyed this book about a "new" world after a virus changes humans into vampire like creatures. The remaining humans try to eke out an existence always on alert for the evil "virals" who cannot tolerate light and appear to live over 90+ years. The 'virals" are not romantic likethe vampires from Twilight but are soullesscreatures always searching for a blood supply.We follow a Colony who finds Amy a young girl who is ageless like the "virals" but almost human and can seem to communicate with the virals through her mind. Members of the colony follow Amy searching for the signal from a computer chip buried in her neck. We meet many interesting characters and discovera new world as the team of survivors and Amy search for an answer to Amy and the existence of the "virals". I understand this is a first book in a trilogy which I hope is true as the ending left too many unanswered questions. Rating 4 of 5.

September: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom- I listened to this book narrated by the two main characters which I found very touching and tragic. The story focuses on Lavinia, a white Irish girl who is orphaned when her family brings her to America in 1791. She is taken as a servant to work in the kitchen house at Tall Oaks, a Tidewater, Va., tobacco plantation owned by Capt. James Pyke. Lavinia is taken to the kitchen house where she grows up with the slaves running the household and is befriended by Belle our other main character. Belle isthe Captain's illegitimate daughter by a black slave . We follow both for the next 20 years and experience the tragedy the Captain brings to the household as he never discloses to his own family his relationship to Belle.His son Marshall hates Belle as he believes she is his father's mistress. Lavinia marries Marshall andsuffers the consequencesfor this silencewhichimpacts both Lavinia and Belle. Rating 4 of 5.

October: Tears in the Darkness by Michael and Elizabeth Norman: At the center of this searing narrative stands Ben Steele, a Montana cowboy remarkable for the fortitude that sustains him through fierce combat, humiliating surrender, and then the infamous Bataan Death March into imprisonment: four years of unrelenting slave labor, starvation, torture, beatings, and disease. Because Steele went on in his postwar life to capture his wartime ordeal in harrowing drawings readers confront in both image and word the brutality of war and the desperation of captivity. Excellent narrative with horrific images of the deathmarch. This book certainly puts a perspective on the Japanese military mindset in WWII and why the atomic bombs were dropped with good reason to end the war. Rating 4 of 5.



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Date Posted: 12/31/2009 5:58 PM ET
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I started this last year and dropped out.  I am making it a goal to list my monthly 'best book' pick.

January-Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer- not my usual type of book.  It was really good.  Full of twists that I never saw coming.  I found myself hating to put it down. 

February- Day After Night by Anita Diamant- wonderful heartfelt story of four girls, the friendships and hardships they face while in an internment camp.

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Count me in!

January:  Well I will tell you what book it's not!  I read the latest Barbara Taylor Bradford book and I was so disappointed.  It was a continuation of the Ravenscar Dynasty books, although you didn't find out until about page 180ish.  I didn't like any of those books and I'm so upset because I love her books. :(

February: Bitsy's Bait & BBQ by Pamela Morsi.....liked this book so much, I ordered 5 more of her books! Haven't been disappointed yet. :)

March: Winter's Garden by Kristin Hannah................amazing book! If you are one of the 600 who are on the wish list, don't wait, go out and buy it!!! So worth it!

April: Echoes by Danielle Steel......an older one that has literally been sitting on my shelf since I paid full price for it. I truly enjoyed this book. A classic war book by DS.

May: My Dearest Friend by Nancy Thayer.....another author that I found thanks to PBS.

June: I read the Blossom Street Series by Debbie Macomber. What a great surprise! It wasn't just fluff, it had great characters.I didn't want the books to end!

July: XOXO Hayden by Chris Corkum..........picked this book because I hate to fulfill my "X" book on the A-Z challenge. It was an amazing book, I highly recommend it.

August: The Woman in Red by Eileen Goudge.....it had so many sub-plots going on, I didn't know how she was going to pull it off, but she most definitely did. The ending gave me goosebumps!!!

September: The Color of Light by Karen White. What a great new find! Really like this author.

October: The Jewel of St. Petersberg by Kate Furnivall. I didn't like her last one, so I was worried about this. It was really, really good. The wish list is going no where. I was #2 for 6 months. It is worth spending the money to buy it!



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January: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (I can't wait until the 3rd one comes out this summer!!)

February: I didn't read anything I really loved this month. Everything was just mediocre. If forced, I'd choose Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott.A quick, but disturbing young adult book.

March: Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princessby Jerramy Fine. I read this memoir on a beach vacation and it was very entertaining. Quick, cute, and fun to read!

April: Ugh, busy month so I only read 3 books - one of which was a reread so I won't count it (although it's still a great book). Of the 2 new books I read I'd have to pick The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes. While this wasn't my favorite book of her's by any means, it was the better of my two April books :(

May: Another slow month, but I'll go with Undiscovered Gyrl by Allison Burnett. Not at all good literature, but I couldn't put it down. I think I read it in a day!

June: Finally found one I really liked! The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. After all the hype I didn't think I'd really enojy this book. Well, I was crying by the end of the first (very short) chapter, cried several times throughout, and wept at the end! It was a fast read, but it was something different and definitely touching :)

July: Another month of mediocre books. The best of the bunch was Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman. This was an interesting memoir that gave the reader a glimpse into daily life in a women's prison. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't phenomenal.

August: It was a tough decision this month. My first pick goes to Mockingjay just because I was so thrilled that this book finally came out and I was able to finish the series! I'd also give honorable mentions to The Blessing of the Animals by Katrina Kittle and My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares.

September: Very slow month for me as far as reading goes. I'd choose Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson. It wasn't as good as Speak, but I enjoyed it. I wish there had been a little more resolution at the end.

October: I can't say I enjoyed it (due to the subject matter/storyline), but Room by Emma Donoghue was very good. It's one of those books that lingers in your mind long after you read it!

November: No winner this month!

December: Ape House by Sara Gruen. I was a little let down by the ending, but overall I really liked this book. Then again, I'm a sucker for animals!

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The 3 that stick with me most are The Art of Racing in the Rain, My Name is Memory, and The Blessing of the Animals. Of these, I have to say thatThe Art of Racing in the Rain was the best.

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The Woman in White by Collins -- classic written in mid-1800s; an engaging mystery told by different narrators; filled with secrets, dysfunctional family dynamics, romance, fascinating characters
Under the Banner of Heaven by Krakauer -- well-written, fascinating, and thought-provoking look into history of Mormonism, Mormon Fundamentalism  and nature of religious beliefs
Honorable mention: River of Darkness by Airth; The Black Tulip by Dumas
The Tender Bar by Moehringer -- a memoir by a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist who grows up without a father and essentially adopts the regulars at the neighborhood bar as his male role models; at various times, poignant, funny, sad, and profound
A Girl Named Zippy by Kimmel (audio) -- narrated by the author, one of the best audios I've listened to; vignettes about growing up in a small town in Indiana told from child's perspective with charm and humor
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Orczy -- a fun read that combines adventure, history, romance, and wit
Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Iggulden -- exciting and engaging story about Genghis Khan's early days
The Winthrop Woman by Seton -- a fascinating portrayal of Elizabeth Fones, who came to the colonies from England in the 1600s, contains history, romance, scandal, murder, madness, adventure, and witchcraft -- what more could one want?!
Mistress of the Art of Death by Franklin -- a highly engaging, entertaining historical mystery (the first of the series) with a wonderful cameo appearance by Henry II
Honorable mention: The Secret Scripture by Barry -- satisfying and worthwhile read, despite contrived ending, about a Protestant woman in Catholic Ireland tragically stuck in mental institution in early 1900s, and The Adventures of Alianore Audley by Wainwright - fun, entertaining, and sometimes silly spoof about sassy young woman who spies for Edward IV and Richard III (should know some history of Wars of the Roses to appreciate the humor)
The Queen's Man, Cruel As the Grave, Dragon's Lair, Prince of Darkness all by Penman -- yeah, I know this is cheating; these are the four installments of Penman's medieval mystery series featuring Justin de Quincy, who serves Eleanor of Aquitaine; they are all good and I don't want to choose just one; Penman as always does a wonderful job of portraying this time period and seamlessly puts fictional characters amongst historical characters; de Quincy is likeable, intelligent, and appealing -- and the series as a whole is engaging and entertaining
The Greatest Knight by Chadwick -- a terrific portrayal of William Marshal, a man of loyalty, integrity and bravery, who served four different Angevin kings in the 12th c; this book tells the first part of his life; compelling historical fiction
The Black Tower by Bayard (audio) -- I loved listening to this book!  Set in France in 1818, this book features Vidocq, who is an actual historical figure -- a legendary criminal turned detective who became the first director of the French National Police Department -- what a great character -- a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Columbo.  Investigating a murder, Vidocq encounters the book's narrator, 26-year old Hector Carpentier, and as they try to solve the case, they discover that Louis XVII (the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette) may not have died in the tower as presumed, but may in fact be alive. Lots of twists and turns -- though one too many for me toward the end -- but overall, a terrific historical thriller. Audio version is wonderfully narrated by Simon Vance.
The Crystal Cave by Stewart -- the first book in Stewart's Arthurian series; focuses on the early life of Merlin and 5th c. Britain; lots of adventure and intrigue; well-written; highly recommended
Honorable mention: The Painted Veil by Maugham -- published in 1925; a relatively short novel about a shallow English woman who marries a somewhat cold, aloof bacteriologist -- both go off to China for his government job -- she has an affair -- husband finds out and essentially forces her to go with him to a cholera-stricken town -- while there, she sees her husband in a new light and experiences her own growth. Worth reading.
The Portrait by Pears (audio version narrated by Simon Vance) -- a mesmerizing and haunting short novel; essentially a monologue by an artist painting a portrait of an influential art critic with whom he has a significant history; the audio version is brilliant
David Copperfield by Dickens -- not my favorite Dickens but it's still Dickens and still wonderful
The Scarlet Lion by Chadwick -- the second part of William Marshall's life (see The Greatest Knight in May); an excellent read
Zemindar by Fitzgerald -- Gone with the Wind during the Sepoy Rebellion in India in 1857
Winter's Bone by Woodrell -- a true gem featuring a 16-year old girl struggling to keep her family together despite the unremittingly harsh, grim, desperate realities of the Ozark subculture in which they live
The Physician by Gordon -- set in 11th c, compelling, sprawling saga of orphan who pretends to be Jewish in order to study at Islamic university, filled with interesting characters, adventures, and historical details
The Last Kingdom, The Pale Horseman, Lords of the North by Cornwell -- first three installments of the Saxon series in which Alfred the Great preserves England from the Danes in the 9th c. featuring the brave, clever Uhtred; gripping adventures and battles written in Cornwell's inimitable style
Bloody Jack by Meyer (audio version)  -- one of the most delightful, entertaining audio books I've heard; orphan girl disguises herself as a boy and joins the British Royal Navy in late 18th c.
Honorable Mention: West With the Night by Markham; Morality Play by Unsworth
All Quiet on the Western Front by Remarque -- powerful, haunting book that portrays the horrors, atrocities, and insanity of WWI through German soldier's eyes
The Things They Carried by O'Brien -- unique blend of fact and fiction portraying the horrors, atrocities, and insanity of the Vietnam War as well as highlighting the power of stories and nature of truth and memory
Parnassus on Wheels by Morley -- slim, delightful, charming story set in 1903 about a travelling bookshop; combines wit, adventure, and romance
Honorable Mention: Curse of by Blue Tattoo by Meyer (audio); The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Twain; To Live by Yu; Sky Burial by Xinran
The Highest Tide by Lynch -- a coming-of-age story narrated by a precocious, gawky 13-year-old boy in Puget Sound who is an insomniac, worships Rachel Carson, and is best friends with an elderly psychic; engaging, poignant, and worth reading
The Well and the Mine by Phillips -- a gripping story told from five different first-person perspectives of a family in a coal-mining town in Alabama during the Depression and Jim Crow days; highly recommended
Sword Song and The Burning Land by Cornwell -- more compelling adventures of Uhtred in the Saxon series (see August)
Honorable Mention: Arc of Justice by Boyle; Under the Jolly Roger by Meyer (audio)
The Lost King of France by Cadbury -- a compelling non-fiction book that traces the history of the French revolution, the final days of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the sadistic treatment of their son, the mystery surrounding his disappearance, the subsequent appearance of those claiming to be him, and the modern science techniques used to show what really happened; a fascinating and intriguing true tale
The Missing by Gautreaux -- set in the 1920s, a beautifully-written haunting story of a man who struggles with questions of redemption, morality, revenge and justice as he experiences the exotic steamboat life along the Mississippi River and the lawless, violent hinterlands of the South
Honorable Mention:  The Hunger Games by Collins (audio); Wolf Hall by Mantel; In the Belly of the Bloodhound by Meyer (audio)
Rebecca by duMaurier -- narrated by young, timid, unnamed narrator who marries aloof wealthy widower; upon return to his sprawling estate, she confronts her insecurities, the haunting presence of the charming (and dead) first wife, the creepy housekeeper, and well-kept secrets; there's a reason this book is a classic -- it's good!
Outlander by Gabaldon -- first of series in which 20th c. nurse travels back in time to 18th c. Scotland; lots of sex, romance, history, adventure, brutality, humor; escapist fun
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Skloot -- compelling and fascinating non-fiction work in which author tells story of poor, black woman who died of cancer in 1951, her family, and her cells, taken without her knowledge, that "launched a medical revolution and multimillion-dollar industry"

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Well, I figure I'll save my spot too. Cool.

Subject: Tammy's Best of List !!
Date Posted: 1/1/2010 1:02 AM ET
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Book of the Year:

January: The Magdalen Martyrs by Ken Bruen ( Jack Taylor #3) A+ I think it's the best of the series so far.

February: Alex Cross's Trial by James Patterson A- Not really part of the Cross series. I enjoyed it.

March: Dog On It by Spencer Quinn ( Chet & Bernie # 1) A+I really enjoyed the story being told from the dog's point of view.

April: Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn B+ Excellent story. The book has slow start but once it get's going your in for ride.

May: Sanctuary by Ken Bruen ( Jack Taylor #7) A+ Another great installment to this dark series looking forward to the next book. This author is a great story teller.

June:The Burying Place by Brian Freeman ( Jonathan Stride #5) A+ I thought this book was the best of the series so far. It hooked me right from the start.

July: The Lions of Lucerne by Brad Thor (Scot Harvath #1) A+ Excellent fast paced thriller right from the start. I will read more from the series.

August: Caught by Harlan Coben A+ Excellent fast paced thriller right from the start of the book. A must read for the Coben fan!

September: Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling ( Harry Potter # 7)A- Just as good when I read it for the first time.

October: The Devil by Ken Bruen ( Jack Taylor # 8) B+ Not as dark as some other books from the seriesbut still It was still a great read from an excellent writer.

November: Nothing really stands out this month. Hopefully next month.

December: 0 books read last month

Book of The Year:The Magdalen Martyrs by Ken Bruen ( Jack Taylor #3)

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Subject: PhoenixFalls' Best List
Date Posted: 1/1/2010 1:20 AM ET
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1. The Orphan's Tales, Vol. 1 & 2: In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice, by Catherynne M. Valente.

Just absolutely brilliant. Intricately plotted, full of fairy tale motifs played straight and inverted, and achingly human. Probably in my top ten read in the past decade, and I have no doubt that I will be rereading these often.

2. Bone and Jewel Creatures, by Elizabeth Bear.

Exquisite, full of both sensawunda and three-dimensional characterization. It is exactly the right length at 136 pages, and the ending made me bawl.

3. Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirrlees.

Utterly English, where the magic is properly magical and the people are as completely ridiculous as they are in real life. I wish there was more fantasy like this, as an antidote to all the Tolkien out there.

4. Winter Rose, by Patricia A. McKillip.

One of the rare books that I love because I hate it; the ending made me want to scream, and I wouldn't change a word. Rois is a heroine I could not love more, and McKillip's prose is at its most gorgeous, and the theme of child abuse woven through the retelling of Tam Lin and the Snow Queen is heartbreaking.

5. Six Moon Dance, by Sheri S. Tepper.

Big Idea SF, about gender, human effects on the environment, personal identity vs. cultural identity, justice, and what it means to be human. But what made this book one of my favorites of the year was that it had a keen sense of absurdity and joy.

6. Wild Seed, by Octavia E. Butler.

Kind of an awe-inspiring work. It's about power, particularly between races and genders, and it's about how to build families; it's also a very unique love story that moved me deeply.

7. Powers, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Another thought-provoking novel, this one tackling slavery head-on, and perfectly appropriate for its YA audience while never patronizing or pandering. Gav is a protagonist I identify with strongly, and the comments about trust hit home. This is not a tale where everything is black and white: Le Guin convincingly shows how slaves can love their masters and the system that enslaves them; then she shows exactly why even the most positive of these relationships is horribly wrong and distorting of the moral sense of both parties.

8. The Bird of the River, by Kage Baker.

A fantasy about the everyday, the commonplace, the minor tragedies that most fantasy authors with their Romantic heroes ignore, and the importance of grabbing every chance for joy. I love all three books in this series, and all are essentially about these things, but I think the final volume is the most complete, so I put it on my list.

9. The Carpet Makers, by Andreas Eschbach.

The only true tragedy on my list, though several of the books made me cry. This is a book that is horrifying in a totally understated way; it is also one I was dismissive of when I first finished it and which simply grew and grew as I thought on it more.

10. Fudoki, by Kij Johnson.

My list is almost entirely female authors, and half of the novels on it tackle gender in one way or another; but this is a true womens' fantasy, and I love it for that. Nearly all of the characters are women, and it is about womens' things: family and home and place in a society where all of those are rigidly determined by gender. It is also very much rooted in the myths of Japan.


Jan: The Anvil of the World, by Kage Baker. 3 linked novellas in one of the most fabulous fantasy worlds I've read in a long time, with an environmental undertone that managed to make me think (hard) at 3am. . . Really great stuff, and it is a tragedy that she passed away Sunday at only 57.

Honorable mentions to The Ladies of Mandrigyn, by Barbara Hambly and Moon-Flash, by Patricia McKillip. It was a really good month!

Feb: The House of the Stag, by Kage Baker. Set in the same world as Jan.'s book of the month, but taking place before it. A heroic fantasy novel that defies all expectations, with a wonderfully wry humanism and better pacing than The Anvil of the World.

Honorable mentions to New Amsterdam, by Elizabeth Bear and Earthling, by Tony Daniel, but this was a weaker month than January.

March: Tie between: Ombria in Shadow, by Patricia McKillip and The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden, by Catherynne M. Valente. Both are fantasies with a strong sense of myth and folklore about them. McKillip has the edge in the sheer beauty of her prose, by Valente edges McKillip out for plotting -- the intricacy of the story-within-story-within-story-ad infinitum she crafts is breathtaking.

Honorable mention to Seven for a Secret, by Elizabeth Bear.

April: So hard to choose! i had a fabulous month, but I'm going to give it to Scott Westerfeld's two-volume Succession, because it was so unexpectedly fabulous. Great character-driven action, plenty of fun ideas -- I wouldn't change a word of it.

Honorable mentions to Lud-in-the-Mist, by Hope Mirrlees; Lifelode, by Jo Walton; and The Dark Hand of Magic, by Barbara Hambly.

May: Well I only read three books in May, but they were all pretty good. . . still, the stand-out best of the three was The King of Elfland's Daughter, by Lord Dunsany. Quite a few excellent modern fantasy authors clearly owe something to Dunsany, and his still seems fresh and delightfully melancholy. I slightly preferred Lud-in-the-Mist, which is in some ways an inversion of Dunsany's tale, but all in all my pre-Tolkien fantasy selections so far have been excellent.

June: Winter Rose, by Patricia McKillip. I actually hated the ending, but that was because the book did its job so very well -- the first person narrator was a brilliant choice by McKillip, all the more stunning because I think it might be the only one in her cannon.

Honorable mention to Six Moon Dance, by Sheri S. Tepper.

July: Wild Seed, by Octavia E. Butler. The somewhat stilted style took some getting used to, but once past the first two or three chapters I was totally awed by how much Butler packed into such a slim volume. She touches on freedom and how to build families, and portrays a really complex relationship with overtones of abuse and dominance/submission that ends up being legitimately empowering (maintaining Jacqueline Carey's position that "that which yields is not always weak" with a great deal more subtlety). And she does all this against a backdrop that explores race and gender relations personally, rather than politically, and works in a very non-standard (and much more affecting) love story that moved me deeply.

Honorable mentions to Bone and Jewel Creatures, by Elizabeth Bear, and The Bird of the River, by Kage Baker.

Aug: Tales of Neveryon, by Samuel R. Delany. Who knew sword-and-sorcery metafantasy was a genre? This was awesome, difficult but rewarding in an almost (but not quite) totally cerebral way. Catherynne Valente and Octavia Butler were good practice for this work, as were all those philosophy classes I took in college. . . :)

Honorable mention to The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice, by Catherynne M. Valente.

Sept: The Carpet Makers, by Andreas Eschbach. A spare, cerebral work of science fiction that nonetheless packs a whallop emotionally. It provides a satisfying puzzle to gnaw on, does a wonderful job of character development in very few pages, and even works as a scathing critique of unquestioning allegiance to the powerful. The more I think about this one, the more impressed I am.

Honorable mention to Hyperion, by Dan Simmons; Whiskey and Water, by Elizabeth Bear; and Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov.

Oct: Slow River, by Nicola Griffith. Impressive in both concept and execution, spare yet exquisite prose, and devastating. I couldn't love this novel; it was just too hard. But it was unquestionably the best book I read this month.

Honorable mentions to Fudoki, by Kij Johnson, and The Empress of Mars, by Kage Baker.

Nov: Powers, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Slow and thoughtful and heartbreaking; a YA fantasy novel that tackles the issue of slavery head-on from the perspective of a boy who's been raised to internalize all of his society's truly messed up rules -- which hits home for me because I have always known that that is the sort of person I would be in another time. It also subtly examines gender roles, but that part of the text was even more depressive because Le Guin presented it as an even more insoluble problem. A great book.

Honorable mentions to The Castle of Crossed Destinies, by Italo Calvino, and Brown Girl in the Ring, by Nalo Hopkinson.


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Here's my spot!



Jan  Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

      Runner-Up: (but definitely the audio)  Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving

Feb The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone

Runner-up: Roses by Leila Meachum

March Plenty of books read, none truly outstanding. Top choice: The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook. It was a pretty good mystery and won the Edgar award in the year that it was published.

April--I had a tie again this month:

The Swan Thieves by ElizabethKostova

May-gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (a re-read)

Caught by Harlen Coben

June?The Risk Pool by Richard Russo (This is definitely not a new book--written in the '80's, I think. But, Russo almost (I didn't like his latest book) always has a good story to tell.

July- In agreement with our worthy leader (Chris), Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. I wouldn't even call it rambling as she did. I thought it was a totally wonderful book. (I will have to say that a few members of my book group thought that some of the medical parts were too graphic).

Aug Because of my daughter's being in an auto accident and my having to take care of her, I didn't get my usual amount of reading in this month. However, my choice is a good one. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

Sept Still not up to my normal reading amount. Of the 8 or so books that I've read, only one was very good. So, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett wins out over not much competition. It was an enjoyable read.

Oct I read (or listened to) about 14 books this month. I should probably pick The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand as my BOM, but, since it was a re-read for me, I won't. Instead I'll choose John Grisham's The Confession. As many other people, I have gotten tired of Grisham at times, but this one is well worth the read. It's a good story concerning capital punishment.

Nov Although I read (and listened to) my normal amount of books this month, nothing really stands out. However, since I like to have a BOM for my own personal satisfaction (and to choose my book of the year), I'll name one: Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman. It's about a newly-married couple that are killed in an auto accident at the beginning of the book. Then, then story tells what happens to their family in the ensuing years. It is a good story.

Dec To Dance with the White Dog by Terry Kay. this book is about 20 years old but it's my pick for this month. World Without End by Ken Follett would be my runner-up.


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Subject: Looks Like a Nice Place to Hang!!!
Date Posted: 1/1/2010 6:25 AM ET
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January 5 stars!!!! Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband (Daughters of the Glen, Bk 1) Author: Melissa Mayhue Entertaining, well written, sexy read...with lots of twists. I always like a little historical legend, too! Am eagerly awaiting the next 3 books arriving at my mailbox! UPDATE: I've read 4 in the series and while I've got the first as the best...I'm really enjoying them all; second fav was the 4th. Another update...I think I've read them all now - the best of the bunch are the time-travelling ones...I seriously mark down the ones that are just faery nastiness! Quite enjoyed the last one, 7th? Will keep reading them...like the premise of finding your Soulmate through time.

FebuaryI read more Mayhue and they qualify, but for something different...I've also continued with a fav series from last year: Jean Johnson's Sons of Destiny...I've enjoyed them all! I read the Song, the Cat and the Storm this month. What is so fun about this series, is that each man and circumstance is different. And so is each woman. Plus each is part of a larger storyline. They really make you want to read more! Update June: I've finally finished the series...and though I enjoyed it, I wouldn't put it as the best series I read this year...it's a good read with 3.5-4.5 stars.

March By far, the best book I've read this year is My Best Friend's Girlby Dorothy Koomson. Have a box of tissues handy...and be prepared to laugh out loud, especially if you are a parent (insider jokes). I've already promised my copy...darn it...I think I've have to get another! 5 stars!

April I gave 5 stars to Simply Wickedby Kate Pearce, who btw is a pbs member author! In the words of my review, I was riveted. Be warned: this is erotica! I am really looking forward to reading about the other characters in the earlier books. I also read the sequel, Simply Insatiable, but did not enjoy it...it was very dark. I understand that the others have a different flavor, so I do want to read them, and I'm glad I read Wicked first because it was delicious!

May I had quite a few 4.5 stars this month...tried to find something in a different genre, but this was my favorite. Pleasure and Purpose (Order of Solace, Bk 1)by Megan Hart I completely enjoyed the first story, but it wasn't until I finished with the trio that I decided this was a keeper! Since the premise is a religious order dedicated to bringing a complete sense of peace AND bliss...what I loved most was that the women involved in the stories were allowed to be individuals and were cherished for that individuality (rare in any religion IMO). They did have guides and probably rules, but not in the way that limited who they could be and how they could express themselves. I thought that was rather beautiful!

June I've noticed I'll usually have several 4.5 star books each month...so the tough rating from me is getting that elusive 5 star - got one! The Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know : Ten Principles for Total Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment by Barbara De Angelis I had posted this to my shelf...got an order for it and thought, well, I'd better see if I can read it before I mail...well, as it turned out, it was too good to let go (there were other copies in the system, so I didn't feel bad to change my mind). It's not just for women, either. If you want another perspective on things you've heard all your life, like "love yourself," then DO read this book. Sure, I love myself and I forgive my mistakes and try to be the best person I can be...Barbara goes so much farther beyond that! She uses lots of personal experiences and examples so you can truly understand the concepts she is sharing. I thought I knew all this stuff...I promise you'll learn more and be happier if you read this book!

July Well, my big 5 star for this month is...a children's book! A Kids' Guide to America's Bill of Rights: Curfews, Censorship, and the 100-Pound Giant :: Kathleen Krull It took us a couple months of reading this chapter by chapter and talking about each chapter. I read it with a 10 yo, but I would say that it's not too simple for any adult to read either! It's a very thoughtful and in depth overview of the amendments we've made to the Constitution and why...including case histories and how things have changed over decades and centuries, and how our Constitution & BofR have changed with it. Also covered what are hot topics today and what might be issues in the future. I can't recommend it enough! Even though I took classes that covered this stuff in college, it was such a clear presentation, that I understand more in several of the less commonly known areas than I did before. I don't expect my kid to remember it all, but I know that he now knows where to find the information and enough to use it; I think every American should be more knowledgable in this area. So, don't be shy...check it out of your library like we did!

August No 5 stars this month... Couldn't decide easily between Be with Me :: Maya Banks & No Reservations by Lauren Dane & Megan Hart, but went with the longer, more complete story. There were some elements in the story that I don't enjoy, but the story itself I really liked. I like the idea that even if you are unconventional, if you are focused on love and happiness, giving and understanding, then it's all good. I also wanted to mention, I almost used the last book I read in July, Tales of a Female Nomad : Living at Large in the World :: Rita Golden Gelmanwhich was a really interesting memoir of a gutsy lady. Good variety of experiences, though it got slow in parts. Recommend it!

September I'm going with another children's book this month...Linnea in Monet's Garden :: Cristina Bjork...This is really well written with lots of history and art mixed into the storyline. Idon't recall the age it shows, but the6yo set was too young to get into it and 10yo seems just right. It was requested off my shelf and I had to cancel cause my kid threw a fit over letting it go after we did a reread! And of course now, he wants to go to Paris!

For fiction my favs this month were N. Singh bk 7 & 8, C. Feehan bk 19, and K. Cole bk 9...

OctoberI'm really enjoying the HeartMates series by Owens, but it was book 3 Heart Duel :: Robin D. Owens that became a 5 star for me. I guess sometimes it's just how you connect with a book. I found book 5 to be very complete, and wanted to mark it up, but for some reason the H/h didn't move me the same way (it was also rather dark themed); I really liked how it tied up stuff that was happening in the last several books, though. So, if you like fantasy, like we used to find a few decades ago, but not overwhelming saga (I was also reading Jordan this month)...it's a wonderful new world to explore with great characters. I think Owens spends a great deal on character development, as well as the relationships, without skimping on the cultural differences, magic, and plot.

NovemberDidn't do as much reading this month...have a couple para 4.5 stars for ya: Pleasure Unbound (Demonica, Bk 1) :: Larissa Ione So far, I've really enjoyed everything I've read by thisauthor...I actually put off reading this because I really didn't expect to enjoy the whole demon thing, but the storylineand character development make the book. I also liked Pride Mates (Shifters Unbound, Bk 1) :: Jennifer Ashley. Forsomething different, I also gave 4.5 stars to Hit Reply :: Rocki St. Claire which I wasn't prepared to like so much. It was catchy and what really did it for me - it was thorough (some complained that it was too long, but I really appreciated that it didn't have a quick pat ending).

December Several good books, but only one 5 star: Morning Beauty,Midnight Beast :: Myrna Mackenzie Though I am a long-time fan of fantasy...it was nice to read something that didn't have any magic fixes. Not saying it was all believable...but highly enjoyable and well written.

I just finished reading the 7th book in the Heart Mate series, and though they were not all 5 stars for me (this one was Heart Fate (Celta, Bk 7) :: Robin D. Owens ), I rate the series 5 stars. She has created a well-developed, well-detailed, interesting world, with well-developed, deeply intriguing characters - in fact, I think the whole series is based on character development, with other things, like mystery and romance being secondary.

Other great series this year were:

Nalini Singh Psy-Changlings

Jo Davis The Fire-Fighters of Station Five

Susan Mallery Buchanan Family

Nora Roberts Wedding Quartet

My criteria is that I read most of the series, and that the books never fizzled on me. I had enjoyed the first few ofMayhue's Highlander series, but then it was more about fae wars than the time-travelto find your soulmate and she lost me. I did really like the Sons of Destiny, but she got too caught up inpolitics and city planning; I got bored by the details in the later books, though it did pick back up and it could very well be on this list, too! Several series I started have great potential, and I will probably switch them over to next year's list should they meet expectations. Aiken'sDragonKinis an almost, too. And so is Kleypas' Hathaways.

Happy reading into 2011!

want to see more great books? I've got lists going for the last 3 years...by year...of the books I rated above 4 stars: BEST BOOKS I read in 2010

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Book of the Month

January - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

February - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

March - Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

April - Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and Hunger by Michael Grant

May - Hate List by Jennifer Brown

June - Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

July - Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Greene and David Leviathan

August - Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

September - North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley **note that I read Mockingjay this month and it was NOT my choice**

October - Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

November - Ruined by Simone Elkeles


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January:  The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

February:  The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

March The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

April The Translator by Daoud Hari

May Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

June Plainsong by Kent Haruf

July My Antonia by Willa Cather

August The Help by Kathryn Stockett

September Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes

October Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

November Sugar by Bernice L McFadden

December Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

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Matt C. (mattc) - ,
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January - Marsbound by Joe Haldeman

February - After Dark by Haruki Murakami

March - Arrow's Fall by Mercedes Lackey

April - None

May - Ba of Bones by Stephen King

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  • January- Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
  • February- Under the Dome by Stephen King, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson, A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood (3-Way Tie)
  • March- Batman and Philosophy- Dark Knight of the Soul by Mark D. White, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (reread)
  • April- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, runners up: The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston, Horns by Joe Hill
  • May- The Best of H.P. Lovecraft- Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror & the Macabre by H.P. Lovecraft, runner up: The Greatest Show on Earth- the Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins
  • June- Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  • July-Still Life With Crows by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  • August- American Lightning- Mystery, Terror, the Crime of the Century and the Birth of Hollywood by Howard Blum
  • September- Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons, The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (tie)
  • October- Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
  • November- Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets by Peter Laufer
  • December- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (reread)

2010 Book of the Year:

  1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
  2. first runner up: Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
  3. second runner up: Under the Dome by Stephen King

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I'm in again for 2010! Saving my space.

January- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. I'm so happy that I read this book finally after loving this movie for so long. It was very close with the movie but with extra added stuff that I sometimes wished they'd put in the movie itself. Overall really great!

February-Push by Sapphire. This book inspired the movie Precious. After seeing the movie I just had to read the book. It really followed closely with the movie but if you're the type of person who can't deal with some of the subject matter then I would suggest not reading the book because there is alot of abusive both mental, physical and sexual. Overall it was good.

March: Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir by Zane. This is the first erotic book I've read by the author and even though it's toted as "lesbian erotica" I still could get into the stories and found them all interesting.

April: Dead to the World by Charlainr Harris. Another great Sookie Stackhouse novel. This time it's Eric that needs her help. He has temporarily lost his memory because of a spell cast on him by a witch. That's when everything changes. These novels are so enjoyable.

May-Identical Strangers:A memoir of twins seperated a birth by Elyse Schein & Paula Bernstein

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What a great way to hear suggestions for books we might otherwise never consider.

Book of the Month

JanuaryCastles In The Air: The Restoration Adventures Of Two Young Optimists And A Crumbling Old Mansion
Author: Judy Corbett For my review  http://www.paperbackswap.com/book/reviews.php?isbn=9780091897314

February When Christ and His Saints Slept
Author: Sharon Kay Penman

Cousins Stephen and Maude vie for the right to rule in 12th century England with the ensuing 19 year civil war being a tragic, horrific, strife-filled time for its citizens. Orig published in 1995 it includes gritty imagery of battles and seiges and historical details of political strategy and double-crosses that are tempered with bits of romance. Definitely not a quick read at 700 plus pages and more than a dozen main players but well worth the time - Penman's become my favorite HF writer.

March The Widow's War
Author: Sally Gunning

I loved everything about how Gunning told this tale. The dialogue, historical detail, and believable characters were masterfully done. "Lydia" questions society's rules and expectation as a recently widowed woman on pre-revolutionary Cape Cod. This is the story of a woman with spirit and courage as she struggles for her own "independence". I've walked the same areas of this town and found the "tour and descriptions" at the end of the book a wonderful addition. Her other book, Bound, taking place in the same area several years later is already on my shelf.

April: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

Must also mention a "hidden gem" called From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden by Amy Stewart. Enjoyed reading this little book over a few late afternoons while resting outside after working on getting my own gardens in shape. I could smile at her "triumphs and confessing to a multitude of gardening sins" - been there, done that.

May The Day the Falls Stood Still. Interesting historical novel telling how much the Niagara Falls (and surrounding areas) changed when the industrialation /electical power demand skyrocketed during the early part of the last century. Follows a young couple and their families, I recommend it highly, hope you like it as much as I did.

June My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira Historical fictional account of a woman trained as a midwife who aspires to advance her medical training to become a full fletched surgeon of the day. She leaves a very comfortable life to pursue this goal, experiencing repeated rejection and the horrific conditions of the Civil War Union hospitals; witnessing the seemingly endless suffering therein. There's family issues that push her towards this decision, unrequited love, and meetings with President Lincoln, John Hay, and Dorothea Dix along the way. Some disturbing, but expected imagery by the author brings alive the utter helplessness felt by the medical personel of the time.

July Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather I loved this story of early life in Quebec when it was wilderness and fresh immigrants from Paris. Follows a young girl through her daily life, Her interactions with family, clergy, harsh weather, and other members of the settlement make interesting reading especially if you've walked the same streets, stayed in the Frontenac and looked out over the St Laurence River. Picked it up because I'm planning a return trip to Quebec City this fall to do some more genealogy research (and practice my french). How I never read this years ago is a mystery.

August It's the middle of the month but regardless of whatever else I read this month, I'm still picking this one.....I really enjoyed The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan. How unfortunate for her that her research predated "DaVinci Code" but wasn't published until after that bestseller. Her story about Mary Magdalene's life and lineage had me spellbound, I hated to put it down. She makes the transition from present day back to biblical times effortless via journal/gospel writings. Definitely not preachy, just a really good, believable story that deserved a larger audience. Pick it up, you won't be sorry.

September It's a tie !! Whistlin Dixie in a Nor'easter by Lisa Pattont had me laughing out loud - (southern girl transplantd up north with amusing cultural differences ensuing). Reading this was effortless enjoyment, hated for it to end....would make a great movie.

The Postmistress by Sara Blake takes a very personal look at how wartime effects 3 very different women. Their stories are powerful but told in a quiet, evocative manner. Yes, there are over 600 wishers for this one.

October The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly Superb! The storyline (early 1900s young female doctor trying to do good in the poorest part of London) branched off in many directions but the writing is so good it was smooth, uncomplicated reading. She weaves the political and medical issues of the day into the plot effortlessly . Donnelly created multi-dimensional characters, some from her previous book The Tea Rose. Reading that one first makes it an enjoyable continuation on one level but is not necessary as each can stand alone.

November The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick ....and I thought I knew the story! How wrong. The story begins before the crossing and takes the reader through the first 50 years. We meet all the main players as "King Phillips War" evolves. He doesn't do a great deal of analysis but his research tells a dramatic, riveting tale of deceit, despair, and hope on both sides. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the early colonial period or looking to expand their knowledge of the 17th century settlement of New England.

December I decided to read Sunne in Splendor by Sharon Kay Penman as it's the only book of hers that I had not yet read and it's been sitting on my shelf forever. The War of Roses (15th century) and all the players are depicted in meticulous detail. They truly come alive (in thought and deed) via her prose. I just know Richard III is somewhere smiling; grateful for her diligent research that allowed a more human/humane portrayal. Hard to put down but sad to have it end.


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What a great idea!

January  "The Quiet Game" Greg Iles.........better than Grisham!!!