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Best Books of 2011

13 Mar

Sorry to be so late on this post! I can’t believe I haven’t already posted this! I swear I thought I did. I don’t know what’s up with the formatting for this by the way. I did NOT type everything in italics, and even going back trying to change it, it stays like this!

1. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- Definitely the best of the Sherlock Holmes novels- no long flashback scenes like the others.

2. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer- Hilarious combination of romance and mystery. Loved the characters.
 
3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini- Not enough tears to cry. Even better than The Kite Runner.
 
4.Eon/Eona by Alison Goodman- Action-packed fantasy/dragon series that I couldn’t put down.
 
5. Divergent by Veronica Roth- Finally found a dystopian I liked just as much or even more than The Hunger Games!
 
6. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers- Mystery not involving a murder. Excellent Harriet Vane/Peter Wimsey scenes.
 
7. Champagne for One- by Rex Stout- By far my favorite Nero Wolfe mystery so far.
 
8. A Game of Thrones– by George R. R. Martin. Action-packed and addicting.
 
9. Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie- One of many great Agatha Christie novels. Loved how she did something different with only four murder suspects.
 
10. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan- Great to see Percy Jackson again.
 
RUNNERS UP!
 
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder- Not your typical YA fantasy.
 
Across the Universe by Beth Revis- A sci-fi/murdery mystery/dystopian. Covers a lot of great genres!
 
If I Stay by Gayle Forman- One of the few contemporary novels I enjoyed, and even this has a hint of the supernatural.
 
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte- This gets better with every reread!
 

Worst Books of 2011

5 Jan

Happy New Year, everybody! Surprisingly I’ve still been getting hits on this blog despite not updating for so long. I had another virus starting on Christmas day but I’m better now. Hopefully no more illnesses for a while! This year I’m gonna try to update my blog more often, but since I’m taking even more classes than last semester, that may be hard to do! But I’ll do my best.

What better way to start the year than with a list of my least favorite books that I read? I read a total of 111 books, which was my goal (in honor of the year 2011). A great deal of them were good, many were mediocre, and some were….bad. This is a list of the bad ones, in alphabetical order (not ranked). Remember, these are only books that I READ last year, not necessarily released that year.

Edited- I updated the list to include a couple books I forgot!

1. April Lady by Georgette Heyer- I’m a Georgette Heyer fan, but really, a few of her books have been duds for me. I read this book shortly after The Convenient Marriage, which was very similar and which I was also not a fan of. Both deal with couples after marriages who still go through issues. The couple both believe that the other doesn’t love them and whacky hijinks ensue. While I didn’t like The Convenient Marriage, at least the first few chapters were promising and there was some basis to the misunderstandings the couples faced. April Lady didn’t even had that. The characters were not charming, but rather nitwits, and it was just annoying overall.

2. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley- This one sounded really interesting and I’d heard it was a classic fantasy. The setup was good, but it ended up being really, really boring. That seemed to be a common theme with fantasies I read this year.

3. Foundling by D.M. Cornish- Another boring fantasy. I don’t know why it was in the young adult section when it seemed clearly meant for younger children. My mind wandered about 1/4 of the way through, and though I finished it, I don’t clearly recall much that happened after that.

4. Graceling by Kristin Cashore- Soooo disappointing. Another one of the boring fantasies, but this one was possibly the worst for me because I was expecting the most from it. Such an interesting concept, but such a poor execution. First of all, the writing was terrible! Secondly, the majority of the book was boring traveling scenes with nothing happening. What a shame.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray-  I debated with myself for a while whether to put this book on the list or not. I did find it entertaining, but not historically accurate in any way, in terms of the characters’ personalities and ideals. They really seemed like modern characters in a Victorian setting. I dunno, I think I would have liked it if I were 10 years younger, but as it is, I found it EXTREMELY disappointing.

6. Katherine by Anya Seton- I really liked Seton’s Green Darkness, but this one didn’t do anything for me. I wasn’t crazy about the characters in that one either, but I really couldn’t stand them in this book.

7. The Naming by Alison Croggon- Good God, was this boring. All descriptions of the landscapes as the characters traveled. Snore….

8. Novellas by Elizabeth Gaskell- I couldn’t pick just one. I decided to read the novellas that the Cranford miniseries were based on- Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, My  Lady Ludlow, and The Moorland Cottage. All were dull as dishwater and I liked how they were done on the show better.

9. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkelez- Okay, I knew going into this that it was chick lit and I’m not into that genre at all. But most of the reviews I read acknowledged this and said they liked it anyway. I didn’t fall into that category. It was so cliched, cheesy, and stupid!

10. Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett- I wanted to try some American hard-boiled mysteries as a change to my usual cozies. I didn’t like it at all! Maybe his other works are better?

Runners-Up- These were books that were disappointing but still not bad in general.

Incarceron/Sapphique by Catherine Fisher- What an inventive concept. A seemingly fantasy world that’s really a dystopian future with a living prison? But it ended up being disappointing. Nothing was ever explained!

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson- Based on just the first two books- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl who Played with Fire. I’ve yet to read the third. The stories were interesting, but Stieg Larsson’s writing left a lot to be desired. Maybe something was lost in translation, but I doubt that’s the whole story. He seemed to feel the need to describe every single thing the characters did, whether or not it was relevant to the plot.

The Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L. Sayers- Just like with April Lady, this was a dud by an author I’m fond of. I love the Peter Wimsey series and all the various characters. But it was the characters in this that ruined it for me. The six murder suspects were practically interchangeable. It made no difference to me which was the murderer, because none stood out from the others in any way.

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey– A Victorian supernatural murder mystery. This book I think was meant more for the tween set. Like A Great and Terrible Beauty, the historical inaccuracies in this drove me insane! Actually I think in terms of characterization, it was fine, but simple things like the peerage and titles were constantly wrong wrong wrong! Every one in this book seemed to be an earl. Some of the titles seemed right, and then we get an earl named Lord Jasper. Yes, his first name. And the younger brother of an earl named Sir Wentworth….his last name. WTF???? All of this could have been easily fixed. The story could have appealed to me more if I was in middle school.

Best Books of 2010

31 Dec

I made my goal of reading over 100 books (101 to be exact). These are obviously not all books released in 2010, but books that I read this year. They’re in alphabetical order because I couldn’t rank them.

Top Ten Best:

1. And Then There Were None- by Agatha Christie. I just started reading Christie about a month ago and have found nearly all of her books that I’ve sampled so far to be delightful, but this one was by far the most suspenseful and gripping. Ten people with dark secrets on an island are killed off one by one- each person suspected is the next to die. Runners up are The Mysterious Affair at Styles (her first novel) and  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (if I hadn’t figured it out from the summaries).

2. The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak. I’ve read a lot of WWII novels about children, especially in middle school, but this was definitely unique- told from the point of view of Death! It’s a tear-jerker, so be warned!

3. The Hunter Games– by Suzanne Collins. I’ve put off reading this because it seemed just like Battle Royale, which I was too squeamish to watch and/or read in full. (Just the clips of the movie I saw were too much!). But I bit the bullet and gave it a try and was hooked! True, it did seem to be very similar to Battle Royale, but I’m not qualified to make a comparison because, as I said, I haven’t seen or read the whole thing. It took a while to get used to the narrative style with so many sentence fragments but when The Games themselves began, it really fit. I thought the two sequels paled in comparison to this brilliant opener.

4. The Kite Runner– by Khaled Hosseini. You know the story. It was on my shelf for five years and now I’m kicking myself for that.

5. The Law and the Lady– I don’t know when I bought this book but I almost reordered it this year until I found it when reorganizing my books. Oops! The last Collins title I had read (Man and Wife) I found disappointing so I was pleasantly relieved that this one was just as good as his Big 4, in my opinion. I’ve always loved Collins for writing strong females.

6. The Nonesuch– by Georgette Heyer. I loved almost all of the Heyer books I’ve read, but this one is probably my favorite for the delightful hero and heroine and really, the whole cast of characters. My other favorites are Sylvester and Regency Buck.

7. The Red Pyramid and The Lost Hero– by Rick Riordan. It’s a tie! I couldn’t decide which one I liked more. His two new series are off to a better start already than Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which I read last year to fill the void Harry Potter left in my heart and ended up adoring.

8. A Room with a Viewby E.M. Forster. From everything I had seen about the 1985 movie, this seemed like nothing more than a fluffy romance. But I found the book to be so much more powerful and moving story about a girl’s sexual awakening and growth to making her own decisions. Unfortunately, the movie was just what I thought and the newer version went too far the other way, but that’s a different story.

9. Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Adventures and Stories Volume 1by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I cheated on this one. I really read three books out of five in one book- The Adventures, Memoirs, and Return of Sherlock Holmes. (I had already read the other two years ago). I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes since watching The Great Mouse Detective and some of the old movies with Basil Rathbone as a child. My favorite of the short stories are “A Scandal in Bohemia” (Holmes outwitted by a woman!), “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” (even if Doyle had some facts about snakes wrong), “The Yellow Face” (Holmes overconfident and WRONG), “The Final Problem” (Moriarty!), and “The Adventure of the Empty House” (Holmes returns!).

Honorable Mention: Crown Duel– by Sherwood Smith. I remember checking this out of the school library in eighth grade as two books and loving it. I finally remembered the title after ten years and finding it at the store as one book, which was quite convenient. I loved it even more this time.

Honorable Mention: Sense and Sensibility- by Jane Austen. I had read this title at least a couple times in the past, plus seen the many adaptations, but it wasn’t until this past year that I saw it in a new light and it climbed higher on my list of favorites.


Dorothy L. Sayers Reviews

30 Nov

I’ve been a Georgette Heyer fan for a while now and while I have enjoyed her detective novels, they left me wanting a bit more. I decided to expand my horizons and give some other authors a try. Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers are both hugely popular, yet I haven’t read anything of theirs until very recently. Now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long!

I picked up the only two Sayers books they had at my closest Borders- Whose Body and Strong Poison. I didn’t know they were both part of a series featuring PI Lord Peter Wimsey! I actually read Strong Poison first, even though Whose Body is the first in the series. Oopsies! It didn’t ruin anything for me though.

Whose Body-

The case was interesting enough but the characters really made me love this book. This book introduces Lord Peter Wimsey, younger brother of a duke and a sort of eccentric genius- he’s rich and only solves cases for fun. I also love Inspector Charles Parker, Lord Peter’s best friend and connection to Scotland Yard- he jokes he’s Watson to Lord Peter’s Sherlock. And his butler, Bunter, is also quite capable in helping solve the mysteries. 8/10

Strong Poison-

Another delightful read. Unfortunately, my dear Lord Peter didn’t have as much page time in this one, arranging for others to carry out most of the investigative work. But that didn’t hamper my enjoyment one bit! I found the case itself just a bit more interesting in this one and I loved Harriet Vane and her reaction to Lord Peter’s proposal. I can’t wait to read more books featuring her. I found it quite interesting when I googled Dorothy L. Sayers and noticed all the similarities between her and Harriet- Oxford-educated, mystery writer, persuaded to live with a lover against their wishes to test their devotion. Even though Harriet couldn’t do much in this book (being in jail and all), I have a feeling she’ll be quite useful at solving mysteries herself. Can’t wait to read more!! 9/10