LittleTaiko's 12-in12 Challenge
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* Agatha Christie - read 7 - DONE!
* Classics - read 5 - DONE!
* Non-fiction - read 12 - DONE!
* Fiction - read 17 - DONE!
* Biography/History - read 7 - DONE!
* Mysteries - read 21 - DONE!
* Favorite Authors - read 7 - DONE!
* Book club - M Street - read 8 - DONE!
* Book club - LSL - read 5 - DONE!
* Jane Austen - read 5 DONE!
* Books received for Christmas - read 7 - DONE!
* Books in cabinet - read 11 - DONE!
Target - 60
Total - 113
Yea! I'm officially done with the challenge since I've read the minimum five books in each category. However, I will continue to update and see where I end up in each category for the year.
1 Star - Didn't like at all or did not finish
2 Stars - It's okay but not something I would recommend.
3 Stars - I liked it but may or may not recommend it
4 Stars - Really liked it and am happy that I spent time reading it
5 Stars - Loved it and the whole world should read it too
1. The Big Four - January - 3 stars
2. The Mystery of the Blue Train - March - 4 stars
3. The Seven Dials Mystery - April - 4 stars
4. Partners in Crime - May - 3 stars
5. The Mysterious Mr. Quin - July - 3 stars
6. The Murder at the Vicarage - August - 4 stars
7. Black Coffee - August - 3 stars
1. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy June - 5 stars
2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (M Street Bookclub) July - 5 stars
3. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (M Street Bookclub) September - 3 stars
4. Persuasion by Jane Austen October - 5 stars
5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith October - 3 stars
1. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed July - 3 stars
2. Scout, Atticus, and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy (M Street Bookclub) July - 3 stars
3. Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton July - 3 stars
4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking July - 4 stars
5. Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton July - 1 star (DNF)
6. The Tennis Partner by Abraham Verghese July - 4 stars
7. Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh August - 5 stars
8. A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver August - 4 stars
9. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe October - 5 stars
10. Friendkeeping: The Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can't Live Without by Julie Klam November - 3 stars
11. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson November - 4 stars
12. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo December - 4 stars
1. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes January - 3 stars
2. The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler June - 4 stars
3. The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald June - 3 stars
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn June - 4 stars
5. Train Dreams by Denis Johnson July - 3 stars
6. Canada by Richard Ford July - 1 star (DNF)
7. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller July 3 stars
8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green August 4 stars
9. Year Zero by Rob Reid August 4 stars
10. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan October 5 stars
11. Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann October 2 stars
12. Winter of the World by Ken Follett October 4 stars
13. Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes October 3 stars
14. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce November 4 stars
15. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore November 3 stars
16. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein November 3 stars
17. Heft by Liz Moore December 4 stars
1. Bossypants by Tina Fey February - 4 stars
2. Zachary Taylor by John S. D. Eisenhower. March - 3 stars
3. Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch March - 3 stars
4. Then Again by Diane Keaton June - 3 stars
5. Millard Fillmore by Paul Finkelman June - 3 stars
6. A Natural Woman by Carole King August - 3 stars
7. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson November - 2 stars
1. 1222 by Anne Holt March - 4 stars
2. Sentenced to Death by Lorna Barrett April - 4 stars
3. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear May - 3 stars
4. Back of Beyond by C. J. Box May - 4 stars
5. Force of Nature by C. J. Box May - 5 stars
6. Very Bad Men by Harry Dolan June - 4 stars
7. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths June - 3 stars
8. Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan July - 4 stars
9. Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett July - 3 stars
10. A Crimson Warning by Tasha Alexander July - 4 stars
11. Fractured by Karin Slaughter August - 4 stars
12. The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill August - 4 stars
13. Undone by Karin Slaughter September - 4 stars
14. Broken by Karin Slaughter September - 4 stars
15. Fallen by Karin Slaughter September - 4 stars
16. Snatched by Karin Slaughter September - 4 stars
17. Criminal by Karin Slaughter September - 4 stars
18. Dead Ends by Sandra Balzo September - 3 stars
19. Dead Write by Sheila Lowe October - 1 star
20. The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen November - 4 stars
21. The Jackpot by David Kazzie. December - 3 stars
1. V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton February - 4 stars
2. Deader Homes and Gardens by Joan Hess - March 3 stars
3. Stay Close by Harlan Coben March - 3 stars
4. No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Crombie May - 4 stars
5. Mrs. Jeffries Defends Her Own by Emily Brightwell May - 4 stars
6. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny September - 5 stars
7. Miracle and Other Christmas Stories by Connie Willis November - 4 stars
1. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - January - 3 stars
2. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson - March - 4 stars
3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum - March - 4 stars
4. God is Not One by Stephen Prothero - April - 4 stars
5. 11/22/1963 by Stephen King - April - 4 stars
6. Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie August - 3 stars
7. Presidential Campaigns: From George Washington to George W. Bush by Paul Boller, Jr. November - 4 stars
8. Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman November - 4 stars
1. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett January - 3 stars
2. Unbroken by Laura Hillebrand January - 5 stars
3. Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich March - 1 star
4. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White April - 5 stars
5. Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell May - 2 stars
6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern October - 5 stars
1. The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore January - 4 stars
2. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach January - 4 stars
3. Swamplandia by Karen Russell March - 2 stars
4. My Reading Life by Pat Conroy March - 3 stars
5. The Litigators by John Grisham May - 3 stars
6. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci December - 3 stars
7. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood December - 4 stars
1. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks May - 4 stars
2. The Grass is Always Greener by Sandra Balzo May - 4 stars
3. Blue Heaven by C.J. Box May - 3 stars
4. The Polish Officer by Alan Furst June - 3 stars
5. The Observations by Jane Harris July - 4 stars
6. Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor September - 4 stars
7. Say It With Poison by Ann Granger November - 3 stars
8. The Case of the Missing Books by Ian Sansom November - 3 stars
9. The Fencing Master by Arturo Perez-Reverte December - 3 stars
10. Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews December - 3 stars
11. Specimen Days by Michael Cunningham December - 4 stars
#2. State of Wonder was a very interesting and thought provoking book. While the beginning was a bit slow, once the action moved to the Amazon, the story really picked up. The medical ethical dilemma was fascinating. The ending seemed to happen in a rush or some could argue that it really didn't end at all. It definitely does not wrap things up in a neat bow, but instead leaves things to the readers imagination.
#3. The Last Letter from your Lover was a very sweet and romantic book. It does make one yearn for the days when people wrote love letters with style. Today it's all emails and texts. This was a very nice and enjoyable read with compelling characters overall, though Ellie was a bit annoying. A good book to read when you want to take a break from some of the heavier stuff.
#6 - The Big Four was definitely not one of Christie's best books. It read like a series of short stories that are connected by one theme. It made for disjointed reading. However, not one of her bests is still a pretty decent book.
#9 - While reading Unbroken, I would need to read something a bit lighter at times to help since Unbroken was fairly intense. Bossypants was the perfect book to lighten the mood. Tina Fey is a smart and funny woman - the book was a bit disjointed at times, but I enjoyed it anyway. Loved the chapter on the reality of photo shoots!
#12 - Steve Jobs the biography did what biographies should do, show the subject warts and all, and boy were there some warts with Steve. Partway through the book I was regretting reading it since he really wasn't that likeable. However, somewhere along the way I moved past that and could see how sometimes we need those obnoxious pushy people to change the world. It was a fascinating look at a brilliant and innovative mind. The book probably could have been pared down a bit though I'm not sure what should have been cut.
#13 - I really do not see why there was so much hype around Swamplandia. It started off charmingly enough, but quickly got bogged down in what seemed to be a bunch of nonsense, especially the bits with Ossie. Ugh. I put the book away for a bit until one day I started to wonder how the characters were doing. Fortunately, Ossie disappears for a bit which helped and the story focused more on Kiwi who was by far my favorite character in the book. At least he was trying to actually do something useful. I never could get into Ava's character and thought the ending was rushed and parts of it unnecessary.
#15 - Sadly, I received My Reading Life as a Christmas gift in 2010 and am just now reading it. Strangely, most of the books I received as gifts that year haven't been read yet. Anyway, I digress...My Reading Life was a very personal and educational look at what inspired Pat Conroy throughout the years. I've never read any of his books but am sufficiently intrigued to pick one up some day. Actually, what this book did was make me really want to read War and Peace and see how it compares to his assessment.
#17 - I've read or listened to The Mystery of the Blue Train several times and it made such an impact on me that the ending is one that I always remember. As usual there is a plucky heroine who finds herself in the midst of a great adventure, this time with Hercule Poirot along for the ride. Jewels, intrigue, a train, and a bad boy - what's not too love?
#18 - I found myself slightly disappointed in Harlan Coben's latest book, Stay Close. While it is certainly still an enjoyable and fast paced thriller, I couldn't help but feel that it was all a bit predictable. The main character of Megan wasn't someone I really cared about either. Lots of twists and turns, but even that is predictable somehow.
#19 - I'm not sure which makes me madder, that this idiot Thad Roberts stole the moon rocks from Nasa, that somebody felt the urge to write about this theft, or that I actually read Sex on the Moon. Really didn't enjoy this book and if it wasn't because it was a book club selection, I wouldn't have finished it. The main character is just such an idiot - one of those people who somehow don't think the rules apply to them. And I mean really, you're going to give up everything just because of a girl you've known for a month? I'm done - I don't want to waste any more time or energy on this book.
#22 - Ah, it's been so many years since I've read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Obviously, not nearly as scary to read as an adult as when I was a child. I was a bit surprised by some of the violence, but the same loveable characters are there. The Scarecrow has always been my favorite, for his unintentional use of his "non-existent" brains. The Lion fared better upon this rereading - never did like him in the movies. This was a very pleasant return to my youth.
#29 - The Mrs. Jeffries series is one that I can rely on to take me away for a few hours. Fortunately, the latest, Mrs. Jeffries Defends Her Own came out right before my trip. It was perfect for reading on the plane. Once again, Mrs. Jeffries and crew find themselves trying to help the Inspector. The ending was a bit obvious to me, but I still enjoyed getting there.
#30 - Maisie Dobbs is a character I've heard about for a few years but have not had a chance to read one of the books until now. The first book in the series, the book spends a lot of time setting up Maisie's back story. As far as mysteries go, it wasn't particularly strong, but as a story, I found it interesting. However, while I liked the book, I couldn't help being disappointed that I didn't enjoy it more. The story is set after WWI with flashback to the war which made reading it a little disjointed. Maisie seems like she could be an interesting character so I'll probably read another in the series at some point.
#33 - Not sure why I kept putting off reading People of the Book, but am really glad that I finally did read it. The book intertwines the stories of a modern day rare book-expert who is given the opportunity to inspect the Haggadah. What she finds are small clues: a butterfly, a wine stain, traces of salt, and a hair strand. The author shows us how each item came to be, spanning from the early 1400's to today. Heartbreaking and remarkable stories that show how much courage people can have when needed. I loved that the characters very rarely did what I expected and were more complex than they originally seemed.
#41 - Then Again by Diane Keaton was an interesting look at her life. Told through alternating stories from her mother's lengthy journals and her own recollections, you get a sense of her as a person. The writing was a bit off as it was too jumpy for my taste.
I was lucky that my mother collected Agatha Christie books when I was young. I remember spending one long, summer school vacation reading though them when I was about 14 or 15. I reread most of them as an adult.
When I was a child my sister received the most beautiful book I had ever seen as a Christmas present. I was so jealous of her. It was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, illustrated by Libico Maraja and published in 1955. The pictures are so beautiful. Luckily the book was reprinted in 1986 and I have a copy of the reprint.
After reading your opinion of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts I have added it to my wishlist.
#45 - The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths is the first mystery in the Ruth Galloway series. Ruth is such an enjoyable character that I could relate to - pushing 40, always concerned about her weight, and not always the best at being sociable. She's an archaeologist who is asked to assist the police when some bones are discovered. Are they the remains of a girl who has been missing for more than 10 years? Ruth's humor and intelligence made for a very enjoyable read.
#46 - The Polish Officer by Alan Furst is the sort of book that I feel like I should love, but instead can only say that I liked it. This is a spy thriller set in 1939 during the war. It follows a Polish spy through various escapades. It's dark, educational, and entertaining but for some reason very hard for me to get through at times. Possibly it's because there are so many stops and starts. Characters come and go, though he does an admirable job of depicting the various supporting characters with a few descriptive words or stories.
Also, these are really cozies, but still good mysteries, the Louise Penny series is excellent. Also, I just started reading Harry Dolan's series (only two books so far) and have found them to be very good too.
Sorry Train Dreams was a bit of a disappointment. I read his Already Dead years ago and thought it was good - really strange and quirky. Train Dreams sounds nothing like it. I've also been meaning to get to Tree of Smoke at some point.
Book #53 - Usually, I enjoy the Lorna Barrett book sellers series, but Murder on the Half Shelf just wasn't quite as good as some of her others. It was still a page turner and held my interest, but I hate mysteries where the reader doesn't have a chance at legitimately figuring it out and this one felt like that. Also, the characters usually seem more real then they did this time around - perfectly normal people start behaving quite irrationally. Who knows, maybe I just wasn't in the right mood, but this one just didn't work for me.
Book #56 - Not sure, if this should really be counted since I couldn't bring myself to finish the book, but since I invested some time and about 75 pages, I thought I'd list it anyway. Canada by Richard Ford is probably one of those books I might enjoy at some other time. However, for now it just really didn't work. The premise is interesting enough, a son recounts the time his parents robbed a bank and the repercussions from that event. The problem is in the story telling - incredibly redundant. After 75 pages, they still hadn't robbed the bank even though it was clearly stated in the first sentence that they would, and the story kept going around in circles, very frustrating.
Book #57 - I really enjoyed rereading To Kill a Mockingbird. There was so much more to the story than I remembered or maybe more then what my teenage self took in. There's a little bit in all the characters that I found enjoyable - Scout's not wanting to be a lady, Atticus's parenting skills, Dill's enthusiasm, Calpernia's strenghth, and Jem's intelligence. Definitely one that I will reread again someday.
Book #60 - Was not in the mood to read some of the books I had currently started and decided to finally read A Crimson Warning by Tasha Alexander. I've been an overall fan of her Lady Emily series, but for some reason hadn't gotten around to reading her latest book yet. Very glad that I did as it was a nice escape to Victorian times. While Lady Emily is the heroine, I must admit that her friend Ivy is the one I most like. She is daring enough to assist Emily but still cares what people think and is genuinely kind. The mystery here was a good one with society members having their scandalous secrets exposed and a murder to boot. Emily and Colin do their detecting as usual while remaining oh so posh. (I do get a bit tired of all the references to her obsession with Greek literature, port etc...we get it, she's evolved and cool, no need to remind us every chapter).
Book #67 - It has been quite a while since I've read a Karin Slaughter book, too long. Is it weird to say it's nice to revisit her dark view of the world? She knows how to tell a good story and Fractured was no different. A wealthy woman comes home to see a stranger apparently killing her daughter. The aftermath of the next few minutes is what drives the rest of the story. I like her method of telling the story from three different perspectives as it allowed me to get to know a character without feeling overwhelmed by them. Gripping story.
Book #68 - Murder at the Vicarage is the first Miss Marple story by Agatha Christie. I think secretly I have a wish to grow up to become Miss Marple or some variation of her. Sweet on the outside but yet observant and aware of the darker side of human nature. Good story, one I have read several times but can never remember who did it, though this time one of the clues really jumped out at me.
Book #69 - Guess I was on an Agatha Christie roll, since I quickly finished Black Coffee. This isn't technically her book, instead it's a novel based on her play which you can readily tell. So much of the action seems better suited for a play and the dialogue and filler material definitely seems more modern. However, it was still a fun way to spend a couple of hours. The whodunit part was fairly obvious which is strange for one of her stories.
Book #70 - I feel confident that I have read Northanger Abbey before, but could not have told you a single thing about the book. Rereading it was quite delightful and I was pleasantly surprised. Catherine is the perfect young lady character, a bit naive, sweet, and a tad silly. It is rewarding to see her mature and learn from some of her mistakes and judgements. Of course some of this is done because of her interest in Henry Tilney, a very interesting young man. Love the fact that he is such a stickler for precise language. The ending was a bit rushed and wrapped up too neatly, but as with other Jane Austen books, still worth the read.
Book #72 - After seeing several people rave about the Dr. Siri series as well as hearing the author interviewed on Morning Edition, I finally bought The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill and am very glad that I did. Dr. Siri and crew were so delightful and I can't wait to read more in the series. I'm especially a sucker for books where I'm entertained while learning something. Definitely an eye opener regarding communism and Laos both of which I know almost nothing about.
Book #74 - I hate it when I fell like I'm supposed to like a book more than I did. Half a Yellow Sun is one of those books. Set in the 60's during the Nigeria-Biafra war, it tells the story from three characters points of view: Ugwu, the houseboy to a professor, Olanna, the beautiful mistress to the professor - did I mention she's beautiful? The reader is reminded quite consistently of this fact. The third voice is Richard, the boyfriend of Olanna's sister. Richard is meek and the sister is angry, something you are also reminded of time and time again. While the war story is moving and at times interesting, the story is way too long (definitely could have been shortened if you cut out all the reminders about the characters). At first I thought it was interesting that the story moved from early 60's to the late 60's and then back, however it didn't really accomplish anything except to annoy this reader. My biggest pet peeve though is the fact that they kept referring to the child as Baby. Seriously, you have a name for her - use it!!!!!!
Book #78 - Broken by Karin Slaughter
Book #79 - Fallen by Karin Slaughter
Book #80 - Snatched by Karin Slaughter
Book #81 - Criminal by Karin Slaughter
My name is Stacy, and I'm addicted to Karin Slaughter's books. Talk about a reading binge - I think I just read five books over the last four days. To be fair, one of them was a novella that took under an hour to read. Whew. Okay, now I'm completely caught up on the Will Trent series and anxiously awaiting the next installment which I'm assuming will come out next year. All I can say, is wow - she really knows how to tell a story. You just have to keep reading to find out what is going to happen next. Also, she has created flawed characters who you can't help but care about. Will, Sara, Faith, Amanda, Evelyn, and I suppose even Angie, if I'm being nice. These books aren't for the faint of heart, but are well worth the time.
LOL! Sometimes binge-reading just has to happen..... ;-) Glad to see they rank up there so highly - 5 books in 4 days tells me they were page-turners!
Book #83 - While browsing in a bookstore, I happened upon A Poetry Handbook in the back to school recommendations. While not a student, I am a fan of Mary Oliver's poetry and was intrigued to learn more about poetry. Supposedly this is meant primarily for writers of poetry, but as someone who is trying to learn more about poetry I found it very useful. Lots of good information about how poems may be constructed. I found it to be a very informative little handbook.
Book #86 - The End of Your Life Book Club is the sort of book that makes me want to be a better person. Mary Anne Schwalbe is quite the inspiration on how to live and die - at least as told by her son Will Schwalbe. I loved their insights into various books, some that I had read and some that I hadn't. More importantly was the honest way they dealt with the business of dying from cancer. I read this on an e-book but might buy a hardcover book so that I can mark some of my favorite passages. It's a book I keep thinking about and will do so for some time.
Book #89 - For some reason I wasn't familiar with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn until reading a book on literary heroines earlier this year. Francie is definitely someone who could be considered a heroine, especially for a young girl. Her goal of reading one book a day as a way to better herself made me chuckle. Her determination in making her life better was inspiring. When the story veered more into her family and their back stories, the book lost a little bit of steam. Overall, a nice enjoyable read.
Book #100 - Not sure where I first read about Code Name Verity but something about it must have sounded interesting as I had added it to my library list. The premise is interesting in that it's about two young women who get involved in WWII, one as a pilot and the other as a spy. The narrative comes across as a bit choppy which can be distracting even though it was probably the best way to tell the story. I believe that this book was geared towards the young adult crowd which if that is the case it's quite good, but I couldn't help feeling that it didn't tell me anything new. 3 out of 5 stars
I am tempted to stay away from this book just for that reason but, as you say, you still found your self being swept along with the story so I guess I won't be quite that quick to judge the book. On the For Later list it goes for when I am in the mood for a story of moral dilemma!
Books #104 - The Case of the Missing Books was an enjoyable read for anybody who likes books. Israel Armstrong loves books, maybe a bit too much, as it seems to have made him useless when it comes to actually earning a living. He finds himself hired as a librarian in a small Irish town. Upon arrival he finds quite a few problems with the main one being that all of the books have disappeared. Israel is fairly inept at doing most things but muddles through somehow. The love this town has for books is quite heartwarming. 3 out of 5 stars
"The ghosts of the people we could have been and weren't...Isn't that what it is? The people we dreamed of being, until we were forced to wake from the dream."
Book #109 - If you like a fairly light, fun beach type read, then Savannah Blues is one I'd recommend. Set in Savannah, it centers on Weezie Foley and her family and friends. Weezie is an antique picker which seems like such a fun job. Throw in a little mystery, a little romance and some entertaining characters (love Uncle James!) and you have an enjoyable romp. 3 out of 5 stars
Book #112 - How do you rate a book like Behind the Beautiful Forevers? This intimate look at life in a Mumbai slum can be heartbreaking and captivating at the same time. You root for some of the people in the story, are appalled at their lives, and hopefully enraged by the corruption. It's a story worth reading.
Book #113 - Really enjoyed The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. This is the "true" story of what happened when Odysseus left Penelope alone to go fight in The Trojan War. The way Atwood tells the story is interesting as Penelope narrates from the grave and is joined by a Greek chorus of the twelve maids.