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Book End Review 2011 [Dec. 31st, 2011|04:29 pm]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader


Last year I gave myself seven months to complete a reading goal of 100 books by 12/31/10. I got close (74) but didn’t quite hit the mark. Well, this year I gave myself the same goal except that I started in January.

Start date: 1/1/11
Date of completion: 12/31/11

# of Books read: 100

I must admit that I feel extremely accomplished to have read this many books. Looking back to how busy I was at the end of my semester… I’m not sure how I made it. Oh, that’s right… if I had to read 75% or more of a book for a class (and it was listed on Goodreads) I counted it toward my reading goal. The books that were assigned for class have a * by the title.

Now… because I’m a bookie and I cannot keep myself from adding new books to read to my “to-read” list I currently have 193 books that I want to read. Probably only 5 of those haven’t been published yet. I have some serious reading to do… and a new Kindle Fire to help me do it! :D

Below is the list of books I read this year and below that is a cut. The cut will take you to my rating and review of each book. Enjoy!

1. Dead Het Boys - Mark A. Roeder
2. Graymoor Mansion B&B - Mark A. Roeder
3. Shadows of Darkness - Mark A. Roeder
4. The Wednesday Letters - Jason F. Wright
5. Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer
6. The Godmother - Carrie Adams
7. The Last Child - John Hart
8. Love is the Higher Law - David Leviathan
9. The Ghost Downstairs - Molly Ringle
10. Winter's Passage - Julie Kagawa
11. The Iron Queen - Julie Kagawa
12. Mysterious Skin - Scott Heim
13. Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson
14. The Long Way Home - Z.A. Maxfield
15. Chasing Brooklyn - Lisa Schroeder
16. Just Making Out - Mark A. Roeder
17. Still Missing - Chevy Stevens
18. A Separate Country - Richard Hicks
19. Shadow Hills - Anastasia Hopcus
20. Nightshade - Andrea Cremer
21. Ghost Girl - Tonya Hurley
22. *Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
23. The Dark Sleep - P.N. Elrod
24. This Lullaby - Sarah Dessen
25. Wicked - Gregory Maguire
26. Love, Stargirl - Jerry Spinelli
27. Titanic's Last Secrets: The Further Adventures of Shadow Divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler - Bradford Matsen
28. Cowboy Poet - Claire Thompson
29. *The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft - Claire Tomalin
30. City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare
31. Ireland's Pirate Queen: The True Story of Grace O'malley, 1530-1603 - Anne Chambers
32. Night Road - Kristin Hannah
33. Love Letters of Great Men - Ursula Doyle
34. Highland Vampire - Hannah Howell
35. Christmas at Graymoor - Mark A. Roeder
36. Homo for the Holidays - Mark A. Roeder
37. Carved in Bone - Jefferson Bass
38. How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship & Musical Theater - Marc Acito
39. Shine - Lauren Myracle
40. Lucifer's Flood - Linda Rios-Brook
41. Never Knowing - Chevy Stevens
42. The Soulkeepers - GP Ching
43. The Midwife's Confession - Diane Chamberlain
44. The Deliverer - Linda Rios-brook
45. Summer's Crossing - Julie Kagawa
46. Water For Elephants - Sara Gruen
47. Flesh and Bone - Jefferson Bass
48. Vanishing Smile: The Theft of the Mona Lisa - R.A. Scotti
49. What They Always Tell Us - Martin Wilson
50. Ayashi No Ceres Vol. 5 - Yuu Watase
51. American Love Songs - Ashlyn Kane
52. Diving in Deep - K.A. Mitchell
53. My Sister's Keeper - Jody Picoult
54. Cleopatra’s Daughter – Michelle Morgan
55. The Legend of Lady MacLoach – Becky Banks
56. The God Box – Alex Sanchez
57. The Deadly Sister – Eliot Schrefer
58. The Wild Things – Dave Eggers
59. Forever – Maggie Stiefvater
60. What Scotland Taught Me – Molly Ringle
61. The Jewel of St. Petersburg – Kate Furnivall
62. Highland Bride – Hannah Howell
63. Inheritance – Devin Grayson
64. Highland Promise – Hannah Howell
65. Highland Protector – Hannah Howell
66. The Bone Yard – Jefferson Bass
67. *Poststructuralism: A Very Short Introduction - Catherine Belsey
68. The Tin Star – J.L. Langley
69. If Angels Burn – Lynn Viehl
70. Rules of Attraction - Bret Easton Ellis
71. *The English Teacher's Survival Guide: Ready-To-Use Techniques & Materials for Grades 7-12 - Mary Lou Brandvik, Katherine S. McKnight
72. *The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
73. Betty White: If You Ask Me (And of Course you Won’t) – Betty White
74. Secrets of the Wolves – Dorothy Hearst
75. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
76. X-Men: Dark Mirror - Marjorie M. Liu
77. Batman: No Man’s Land – Greg Rucka
78. Annie on my Mind – Nancy Garden
79. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
80. The Slayer Chronicles: First Kill – Heather Brewer
81. *The Tempest – Shakespeare
82. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
83. East – Edith Pattou
84. Chasing Seth – J.R. Loveless
85. The King – Lisa Rios-Brook
86. Saving Max - Antoinette van Heugten
87. These Things Hidden - Heather Gudenkauf
88. The Iron Knight – Julie Kagawa
89. *Grammar to Go: How It Works and How To Use It - Barbara Goldstein, Jack Waugh, Karen Linsky
90. *The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
91. *Teaching in the Secondary School - Tom V. Savage
92. Extraordinary – Nancy Werlin
93. *One World of Literature - Shirley Lim, Norman Spencer
94. *Understanding English Grammar - Martha J. Kolln, Robert W. Funk
95. Clockwork Prince – Cassandra Clare
96. *The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man – James Weldon Johnson
97. *Passing – Nella Larsen
98. *Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
99. Ayashi No Ceres Vol. 9 – Yuu Watase
100. The Redeemer – Lisa Rios-Brook

And now for the reviews! Just follow the cut.

Ratings and ReviewsCollapse )
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Passage, Connie Willis [Sep. 19th, 2011|05:45 pm]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader


Passage, Connie Willis

My Rating: 5/5

Summary (Goodreads.com):  Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist specializing in near-death experiences. She is about to get help from a new doctor with the power to give her the chance to get as close to death as anyone can. A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Joanna’s first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined — so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why that place is so hauntingly familiar.

But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid. Yet just when Joanna thinks she understands, she’s in for the biggest surprise of all — ashattering scenario that will keep you feverishly reading until the final climactic page.

My Review: And the familiar depression has consumed me yet again because I’ve finished another great novel and filling the empty void that accompanies completion seems impossible.
Passage is the first Connie Willis novel I’ve read that wasn’t in her Oxford University time travel world.  I was scared it wouldn’t have the charm, the terror and whimsy those novels held, but, gladly, I was so wrong.
Trademark Willis is stamped throughout the pages; the entire novel was a frenzied marathon of people trying to get a hold of each other. It was non stop hysteria intensified by the unnavigable maze that was Mercy General Hospital and managed to be terrifying and hysterical at the same time.
Willis is wonderful at characterization, especially the secondary ones. Maisie, Mandrake, and Briarley were exceptionally written and insisted on jumping out of the pages.
It was a heavy and exhausting book – in a good way, of course – but I would caution the light hearted to stay away.  Death, in some form, appears on pretty much every page, whether it’s through research and experimentation or in the literal sense.
I was thoroughly impressed with everything: the writing, the historical detail, the scientific explanations without being too sciencey.
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Review: Hot and Sweaty Rex, by Eric Garcia [Sep. 15th, 2011|12:24 pm]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader

Hot and Sweaty Rex by Eric Garcia:
There's something about the way they're treating me that reminds me -- quite unpleasantly -- of the way I spoke to Chaz the other night, As if getting in this car might not be optimal for my health. But I've thrown myself headlong into any number of nasty situations when intuition screamed at me to run like hell, and come out clean every time. Unless you count the broken legs. And the stitches. And the two subpoenas.

"Sounds great," I chirp. "Which way to the car?"

Synopsis: An L.A. P.I. gets drawn into dueling Mafia family problems, due to his shady past. And oh yeah, everyone's secretly a dinosaur.

Things you just can't tell by looking at him.Collapse )
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Review: Body Work, by Sara Paretsky [Aug. 30th, 2011|02:32 pm]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader

Body Work by Sara Paretsky:

"This older guy, he's kind of crude, and he can't keep his hands to himself. So first I kidded him, you know, going, 'Whoa, buster, seems like your fingers kind of forgot curfew. Better tell 'em to stay home where they belong.' Well, that was like slapping a whale with a goldfish -- totally useless. So the next time I kicked him good on the shin, and he talked to Olympia, and she came to me and said I couldn't go around kicking customers. So I explained what happened, and she said, Are you sure? And I said, I know what a hand feels like when it's inside my pants, and she said, if I overlooked it, there'd be something extra in my pay envelope. But--"

"Quit." I said flatly "If Olympia is running drugs -- and a bar is a perfect Laundromat for drug money -- you don't want to be there when the cops shut her down. And if she's pimping for some sleazoid, you need to run for the exit."

"I will if I have to. But Vic, it's almost four hundred a week in tips I'm getting there, pretty much tax-free. And my day job, I don't know how much longer they'll keep me on. Would you -- I know it's a lot to ask, but could you--"

"What, shoot him?"

Synopsis: VI Warshawski might be getting old and finally reaping some of the karmic payback of her terrible twenties and thirties, but that doesn't mean she doesn't still know how to party, social justice-style.

My vote, as the reader, was for shooting.Collapse )
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Review: Garnethill, by Denise Mina [Aug. 23rd, 2011|09:38 am]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader

Garnethill by Denise Mina:

Despite the atmosphere in the house Liam delighted his mother by getting into Glasgow University Law School. He dropped out after six months and started selling hash to his friends on a casual basis but he discovered a talent and went professional. He bought a big house. They told Winnie he managed bands. Maureen used to nag him about security but he said that if he started to worry about things like that he'd get really paranoid.

His present girlfriend, Maggie, was a bit of a mystery. She was a model but they never saw her model anything, and a singer, but they never heard her sing either. She was very pretty and had the roundest arse Maureen had ever seen. She didn't seem to have any friends of her own. Poor Maggie had a lot to live up to: Lynn, Liam's first and last girlfriend, was a doctor's receptionist and rough as a badger's arse but such great crack even Winnie's snobbishness dissipated when Lynn told a story.

Synopsis: After deciding to break up with her therapist-bf Douglas, Maureen goes out and gets rip-roaring drunk with a friend, only to wake up at home the next morning, with Douglas bound to a chair in her kitchen with his throat-slashed.

Come for the mystery! Stay for the Bad Parenting Olympics!Collapse )
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Review: The Company Man by Robert J Bennett [Aug. 21st, 2011|10:29 am]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader

The Company Man by Robert J Bennett:

Finally one of the larger detectives tackled him and wrapped around his legs, bringing him to the ground. The conductor wept and struggled with him and clawed at the floor. Several patrolmen ran to him, and on took out his truncheon and raised it high.

"Stop!" shouted a voice.

The officers looked over their shoulders to see Samantha furiously striding toward them. They paused, unused to dealing with well-dressed women, particularly ones who were shouting at them.

Synopsis: In an alternate-history Seattle, where one company holds all the cards, a very peculiar man and his assistant set about tracking a labor union leader, the last honest cop works himself to a grizzled nub and everyone conveniently turns a deaf ear to the strange noises the city itself has started making.

But let's talk about that assistant some more.Collapse )
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World Without End, Ken Follett [Jul. 29th, 2011|09:46 am]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader

World Without End, Ken FollettWorld Without End
My Rating: 4/5

(Amazon.com) World Without End takes place in the same town of Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building the exquisite Gothic cathedral that was at the heart of The Pillars of the Earth. The cathedral and the priory are again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge, but this sequel stands on its own. This time the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroad of new ideas--about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with progressive minds, the intrigue and tension quickly reach a boiling point against the devastating backdrop of the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race--the Black Death.

My Review:
Pillars of the Earth is one of my favourite novels. It was like a soap opera, it was corny in places, it was unbelievable, but I couldn’t stand not know what would happen next. After reading only 50 pages of Pillars, I spent all day in a panic because the family may not get their stolen pig back!

Recently, I was in the mood for a long novel to get lost in, so I picked up World Without End, the ‘sequel’ to Pillars of the Earth. It really could be read as a stand-alone novel.

It was just what I needed: a historical soap opera. There were evil people being evil, corrupt people manipulating others, and good people facing hardships and disappointment.

There were moments where I felt Follett was rehashing minor plot lines from Pillars, but I wasn’t too fussed about it. Perhaps because I expected him to do it.

It was a new set of characters with new problems and, just like the other, I needed to know how it would turn out otherwise my brain may have imploded.

Plus, the plague makes an appearance to make it even more dramatic!

It wasn’t as good as Pillars, I felt a tad more connected to the characters there, but it was a great, epic read nonetheless.
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Next, Michael Crichton [Jun. 15th, 2011|05:59 pm]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader

Next, Michael CrichtonNext

My Rating: 2.5/5

Summary: (goodreads) Devilishly clever, Next blends fact and fiction into a breathless tale of a new world where nothing is what it seems, and a set of new possibilities can open at every turn. Next challenges our sense of reality and notions of morality. Balancing the comic and bizarre with the genuinely frightening and disturbing, Next shatters our assumptions, and reveals shocking new choices where we least expect.

My Review:
I have Michael Crichton to thank for my transition from young adult fiction to adult fiction. After devouring Timeline at 12, I was in shock that books could be this good – filled with crazy science, time travel, and terrifying fights for survival.

It was fantastic to discover that not all books were about teens overcoming drug addictions/abuse or silly teenage hormonal problems.

Apart from Harry Potter, no book has consumed me like Crichton’s at that point. I read very few YA novels after that milestone in my life.

In the ten years since Timeline, I read many of his novels – some better than others – but for the most part all great and twisted reads.

So, when I was in the mood for a sciencey thriller, I picked up Next, the last novel he completed before he died in 2008.

It pains me to say it, but it fell flat for me. The chapters jumped from character to character, as his novels normally do, but here it seemed as though every chapter introduced a new character – even well past the halfway point. I should have made a character list to keep track of who was who and who did what in the gene field.

I felt no connection to any of the numerous protagonists and by the time they did something interesting, the chapter ended, a new character was thrown at me and I had to wait many pages to see them again, by which time I’ve forgotten what they’ve done.

Despite the badass ending, the book was a big ‘meh’ for me. It was a plateau for the duration of the read, and never really built up to an explosive ending.

I think I’ll just stick to rereading Timeline and Jurassic Park.
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Please Help This Library System Out! [Apr. 21st, 2011|11:18 pm]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader

This library system has been hit hard by budget cuts this past year and needs all the help they can get.  *PLEASE* take a moment to help this local library win 1,600 'For Dummies' books!  All you have to do is "LIKE" the following fan page and encourage your friends to do the same (just takes a second of your time).  They have 10 days left to maintain their lead (April 30, 2011 deadline).  Thanks so much for helping to support libraries in the wake of recent budget shortfalls!  Please "SHARE" this link with others!


Thank you!
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Making History [Mar. 3rd, 2011|01:54 pm]
A Book Club For The Obsessive Reader

Making History, Stephen FryMaking History

My rating: 4/5

Summary: (Goodreads) In Stephen Fry's most seriously ambitious novel to date, he creates a futuristic fantasy that becomes a thriller with a funny streak. Tackling one of history's darkest episodes, he poses the question: What if Hitler had never been born? An unquestionable improvement, no doubt. Michael Young, an earnest young history graduate student, has just finished his dissertation, an exploration into the roots of evil and the early life of Adolf Hitler. When he meets up with an aging German physicist, they concoct an idealistic experiment that involves time travel to prevent the conception of the Fuhrer. It will change the course of history, but will it create a better world?

My review:   I love the brilliant Stephen Fry. He is possibly one of my favourite people. Ever.

So, having read The Liar six years ago and because I am pathetically in love with the man, it was a no brainer to read Making History.

I admit, the first half was slightly dull. I expected more – much more – from such a genius. It dragged on, took too long to explain anything of interest, and lacked that Stephen Fry wit I adore so much.

I dove into the book expecting one fantastic, wonderfully crafted sentence after the other, but I was disappointed. It took me several weeks to get through the first 300 pages, but I had to keep going; I couldn’t let Mr. Fry down!

Then around page 300, I got intrigued.

Then at page 312, I was all ‘Holy shit, omg, wtf,!#%@#’.

Then I read the remaining 250 pages in a couple few hours and forbade my boyfriend to speak to me until I finished.

The second half obliterates any bad feelings that came with the first part. It is worth it – so worth it – to trudge through the beginning. It was original, genius, terrifying, heartwarming, and brilliant. Everything I expected from Stephen Fry.

Seeing as the first half took me so long, it’s not a quick read. But if you have the time, definitely give it a try – just make sure you clear your schedule for when you get near the end.
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