Categotry Archives: Book Reviews


2012: Books in Review


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2010: Books in Review
2011: Books in Review

So over the course of 365 days, how many books did I read, buy, borrow from the library? How much did I spend? How much of my life has been wasted on literary pursuits?

My goal was to read more than last year (274). Or get a job. I got a job. The reading took a nose-dive. Although, really, I mean 218 books in a year isn’t bad precisely.

Books Read: 218
Books Partially Read: 63
Books Bought: 123
Money Spent: $332
Money Made: $131
Books Borrowed: 150
Books Given: 60
Books Re-read: 47 (22% of total books read)

Other statistics:

Total Books In: 333
Total Books Read/Started: 281

Spent approximately: $2.70 (2011 = $4.30 a book, 2010 = $2.33/book)

Time spent reading: 9% (2011 = 12%, 2010 = 10%)

Favorite Books of 2012:

The Tomorrow Series (not all of them) by John Marsden
Demon’s Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Prized by Caragh M. O’Brien
Losers in Space by John Barnes

The Thin Woman by Dorothy Cannell
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
The School for Cats and Jenny Goes to Sea by Esther Averill

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell

Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: a Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Graphic Novel
Serenity: Better Days and Other Stories by Joss Whedon
Wings by Shinsuke Tanaka
Fruits Basket by Natsuke Takaya

The Other Guy’s Bride by Connie Brockway
A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

The Girl Who Was On Fire ed. by Leah Wilson


Decmber 2012

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We’re almost there! I’m feeling pretty good about this, guys. Think how much less pressure I’ll feel every month and the demise of the screaming “To Do” notes littering notebooks and my laptop desktop. How many years have I been doing this anyway? Now I’m curious. Unfortunately I’m on a BART train and I don’t have internet. Also the sun just went down and it’s dark. Stupid Daylight Savings.

Photo opps that happened in December:
Miss Universe

Books Read: 9
Books Re-read: 1
Books Unfinished: 1
Books Bought: 2
Books Borrowed: 2
Books Given: 6
Money Spent: $16

Favorite Book: The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell. This book was amazingly good. (Qualifier: To me.) It’s about….well, it’s about belief in God contrasted with exposure to an alien race on a far distant planet. Basically it’s about questioning belief, religious journeys, awesomely developed science fiction, the power of religion….etc. The title comes from…, no that would give it away. Guys, it’s great. I loved it. And it did a thing I hate–non-linear story-telling–and I still loved it. That’s saying something.

Least Favorite Books: Loving Lady Marcia by Kieran Kramer (I shit you not, she’s Marcia Brady), Shadow’s Claim by Kresley Cole (woman, get back on your game), and The Lady Most Willing by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway (Three authors is maybe not the most conducive to good story-telling).

Favorite Quotes:

“…we share a bond I’d defend to the death if needs be. If all goes according to the natural order of things, siblings will know us longer than our parents, longer than our spouses and friends.”
Loving Lady Marcia by Kieran Kramer

(I know it was a terrible book but I love how truthfully this expresses something I think about when I think about my family.)

“The Jewish sages also tell us that God dances when His children defeat him in argument, when they stand on their own feet and use their minds. So questions like Anne’s are worth asking. To ask them is a very fine kind of human behavior. If we keep demanding that God yield up His answers, perhaps some day we will understand them. And then we will be something more clever than apes and we shall dance with God.”
The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell

(Note: the internet says I started book blogging in 2009.)


November 2012

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This is the easiest post to write. I read a grand total of two books this month. TWO! Wait, that’s a lie. I didn’t finish one of them. One book! Amazing.

I was spending all of my free time (which amounts pretty much to mornings on BART and lunch times) to writing a National Novel Writing Month novel. I haven’t even finished it yet (as of January) and I was 4,000 short of the 50,000 at the end of the month so I can’t even count myself a NaNo winner this year (well, last year). It was all very sad, people.

I mean, I guess I made a solid start. And I have reached 50K now. Am at about 60K, I’d guess. Who knows really though as there’s still 60 hand-written pages to transcribe and I can’t even read my own hand writing. Nor do I have the time or energy to type it up. I may need that dictation software. You know who’s birthday is coming up? Oh, it’s mine.

Books Read: 1
Books Re-read: 0
Books Unfinished: 1
Books Borrowed: 3 (including Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon and Bared to You by Sylvia Day, both of which I waited months for and then didn’t have time to read and had to return to the library. Blergh.)
Books Bought: 0
Books Given: 0

Favorite Book: Carbonel: King of the Cats by Barbara Sleigh. I wanted to read more cat books after all the Esther Averill’s last month and this was by the same publisher and came up in search results. It was good. More about human (kid) interactions with a special cat (talks, knows magic) than cat on cat business like Jenny and the Cat Club. Still a good book for kids (and me).

Leas Favorite: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. Fuck, woman. Who knew you could do boring minutia so well? I couldn’t stand it.


October 2012

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Here I am past all the books sales, second month with a job and the month of NaNo is almost upon me (during which I have what is known as A Very Poor Showing).

I don’t remember what else was happening in October really…

Oh. A trip to Napa with the gang, pictures here. Thanks Flickr!

Also a cat-themed Finer Things Club meeting.

Cat Ladies

Books Read: 17
Books Re-read: 0
Books Unfinished: 4
Books Borrowed: 14
Books Bought: 39 (Apparently there was an Alameda Library Book sale I forgot about when starting this post)
Books Given: 0
Money Spent: $79 (I bought more than just the library ones)

Favorite Books: Esther Averill’s Jenny books, faves of which were The School for Cats and Jenny Goes To Sea. Also I liked The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

The cat books were all delightful, except maybe Captains of the City Streets because you know how I feel about domesticated animals living on the streets. We were reading these for FT this month and I got a lot from the library. If you’ll recall I wrote about the re-reading of the compilation book here after buying it at a book sale in 2011.

I also read The Haunting of Hill House for a book club–this one at work, where, yes, we have a book club because we’re nerds. A call was put out at the beginning of October for creepy books to read and I suggested Hill House because I wanted to read it. I’m glad it was chosen and that I finally got to read it because it’s awesome, but it was also nerve-wracking being the person who recommended a book. It’s about, as you might have guessed (or know already if you’re Kris), a haunted house and some people who come to document and experience its paranormal effects. It’s well written and evocatively creepy. Though I did kind of still wish for even more story.

Least Favorite Books: Arcana Chronicles Book 1: Poison Princess by Kresley Cole (guys, it’s about the Tarot deck. It’s so bad), and a bunch of poorly written YA romance and adult romances. Bleh.


September 2012


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As you, most devout readers (ie Kris and Marina, maybe others) may have noticed–I fell completely behind on my book blogs once I got a job. Hilariously, devout readers (notably again, Marina and Kris) you don’t even like the book blogs! Hilarious!

I’m going to catch up now at least through the end of 2012 because that seems appropriate. But I’m not sure I can continue this same method moving forward into 2013. I might just start telling you about my favorite books in a month or two months or as they happen or whatever. But not do this whole rigamorale each time. Because, let’s face it, this is obviously not sustainable for me.

Books Read: 17
Books Re-read: 1
Books Unfinished: 4
Books Borrowed: 16
Books Bought: 33
Books Given: 3
Money Made: $14 at HPB
Money Spent: $94 (PHill and SF Library Book Sales and 2 books from London from Kris)

Favorite Book: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Alif the Unseen is about a programmer in the Middle East who writes a code based on 1001 Nights. It’s…what I would consider sci-fi literature, I guess. But a lot closer to true lit than most of the stuff I read. The characters were compelling, the plot was gripping, all the elements came together nicely. Hightly recommended if you’re into technology and classics and Middle Eastern tropes.

Least Favorite Books: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (not nearly as good as the Demon Lexicon’s trilogy. NOT NEARLY), Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (Frog Prince story. Seemed promising, wasn’t really), A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare (not as good as A Week to Be Wicked), and Legacy of Tril #1: Soulbound by Heather Brewer (UGH).


August 2012

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In August this year (you can see this was written at the same time as July’s because I am a slacker and re-use phrases and also my current overuse of parentheses which, trust me, is annoying even ME) I did some stuff. I got a real job! A 40 hour a week, office job! Blergh. But no it’s okay. So far. And it brings me up to six jobs. SIX JOBS. I need to dump some of these. Which should be easy since several of them are not real jobs anyway. Like making bags for Etsy? Considering I never finished setting up the shop that one’s pretty easy to dump. Except now I have these two finished bags and all this material and nothing to do with it all. Good thing I made and sold that Star Wars bag to Ellie. Well, “sold”. I mean I gave it to her so she would feed my cats and water my plants while I went on ANOTHER vacation last month. This one was 11 days in Oregon (pictures here =) Where not only did I spend a lot of time at a house on a lake with my family, but I also went to Powells and made beaucoup bucks selling books AND I attended a book club WHERE THEY READ MY BOOK. It was freaky and weird and awesome and I am so, SO proud of my social anxiety ridden self for going and answering questions and surviving. Those ladies made it FUN too. They were an awesome, hilarious, strong, gorgeous feminine power delight. And even though none of them really read romance novels or like the genre much they still read my book and were happy to discuss it. What else did I do last month? Meh, not much. That was all the super exciting stuff. So, on to books!

Books Read: 15
Books Partially Read: 4
Books Re-read: 8
Books Bought: 9
Money Spent: $98 (damn you, Powell’s)
Money Made: $100 (yey Powell’s!)
Books Borrowed: 6
Books Given: 0

Books on To-Be-Read Shelf: No idea. (I kind of didn’t take note when it was August and now it’s too late)

Favorite Books This Month: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede, Chime by Franny Billingsly, and Wings by Shinsuke Tanaka.

For Darkness Shows the Stars, let me set the scene for you here. Imagine dystopic YA crossed with Jane Austen’s Persuasian. Got it? It was awesome. It could maybe have been a little more awesome even but it was still really good. Also it made me want to re-read Persuasion.

Seraphina is about dragons and music and romance and species-ism. It’s the first book by Hartman and for once reviews didn’t let me down (see least liked books for this to make more sense in context this month). Anyway, I liked this one. Good world-building; interesting, flawed characters; fleshed out details…I look forward to reading more set in this world.

Pawn of Prophecy is a re-read. David Eddings’ Belgariad series were a staple of my youth; I read them for the first time in 6th grade. They’re the first fantasy books I ever purposefully bought myself (at Crown Books back in the day when that existed here) and I DEVOURED THEM ALL that Christmas on the drive to Oregon, in Oregon, and the drive home. Then I went and bought more of his books. I am re-reading some of them now though I’ve gotten hopelessly bogged down in the Mallorean this month. Belgariad is all good. Mallorean….I’m struggling. I kind of just want to jump ship and go read the Sparhawk series. Sigh. I’m persevering. Anyway this is the first one and they’re epic fantasy about a boy discovering his birthright and questing and magic and religion and so on.

The Far West is the third in Wrede’s 13th Child series which is a magical Old West kind of thing which is really good. This one was all about an expedition into uncharted territories west of the Mississippi where more is revealed and more magic happens. I wanted EVEN MORE to happen. And I’m not sure if this was a trilogy and so it’s over or if there will be more. I hope there’s more. I want her to do more amazing things. (Review of the first one here.)

Chime is one I’ve already read before and I raved about it to an unparallelled degree making comparisons to one of my all time favorite books–The Changeover by Margaret Mahy. Second reading totally held up, it is a fabulous book completely captivating a reader with the wonders of language and play.

Wings is a graphic novel about a dog with wings and the family who takes him in. I love love loved the art (I bought it in Bandon, OR at the bookstore completely because I flipped thru and thought it was so pretty). And then I read it and it is super bittersweet but lovely still. I must remember to see if the library has other stuff by him.

Least Favorite Books: Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James. I KNOW ALL RIGHT. I didn’t finish it. Sheesh. And The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent which I had high hopes for but then it was just boring and no good. Sad. You just can’t trust Amazon reviews sometimes–or, more accurately, America. YOU CANNOT TRUST AMERICA TO VOTE ON THINGS PROPERLY. (Mostly this shouty-capital reaction is due to my terror of America’s voting on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance but it’s also a shade of trepidation for the elections in November. Because I’m multi-faceted like that. I can care equally about America’s Favorite Dancer and the next President of the United States, all right? Fuck, I’m not that shallow. I care a lot less about SYTYCD, don’t worry.)


July 2012

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In July this year I was working at a couple of my jobs–for Sean Penn, for Aaron and Tami, on my bags/Etsy shop, and still selling Book ‘Em as per usual. And then I also went on the houseboat for 11 days for Adam’s 40th Birthday (pictures here). I was still kind of sick and broken but getting better. And I read some books! 19 to be precise (and you know how I love my precise math). One of them was Fifty Shades of Grey. I wanted to get that out right at the beginning so you’d know what kind of month it was (ONE WHICH IS STILL AFFECTING MY WRITING HABITS). I would say I’m sorry, but I kind of love shouty-capitals too much to really mean it. I am sad about the demise of eye rolling as a form of free expression though, I will say that. I crafted a whole fictional scene in my head about it WHERE NO ONE GOT SPANKED.

Books Read: 19
Books Partially Read: 8
Books Re-read: 3
Books Bought: 4
Money Spent: $28
Books Borrowed: 20
Books Given: 1

Books on To-Be-Read Shelf: NO IDEA.

Favorite Books This Month: Honestly, nothing so great that it deserves mention. Maybe Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry. I read that for the last Finer Things Club (pictures here). It was delightful. This was my book report to Nuala about it (since we were reading books set in Atlanta for the sole purpose of telling her about Atlanta, her new home), “driving miss daisy is not really relevant to the atlanta of TODAY i don’t think. also you’re not a rich old white widow hiring a black man to chauffeur you around so that’s not relevant either. but you could be SOMEDAY. so make sure you let him have a tin of canned tuna every once in a while (that’s a thing). i thought it was a really good play. well written and detail articulated in tiny ways.”

You know what I didn’t like though? LOTS OF THINGS. All right, I can see you rolling your eyes at the shouty-capitals. Shut it.

Least favorite books: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James. You know what? DON’T WRITE A BOOK ABOUT BDSM WHEN YOU’RE GOING TO DENIGRATE PEOPLE WHO CHOOSE THAT LIFESTYLE. Also, maybe just don’t write a book when you’re a shitty shitty writer. LIFE LESSON.

Also I disliked: Scandal of the Year by Olivia Drake (some crappy romance), The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (I was very sad about not loving this one), Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews (which Christine read for FT Club), The Demon Trapper’s Daughter by Jana Olivier (one of my other Atlanta ones–YA supernatural BAD), Purity by Jackson Pearce (really only her djinn one was any good and even that one wasn’t very good), and Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews (once you’ve already read the Anita Blake books apparently you just can’t commit yourself to reading similar things. Or at least *I* can’t.)

I also apparently liked (enough to put a heart by it anyway which in my comment system means I liked it a lot but didn’t think it was significantly awesome as literature [stars denote that]) Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan. I remember reading that one on the houseboat and I remember liking it but heart level of like? I don’t really remember that. There’s a new SRB that just came out though which I am uber-excited for–Unspoken. It should arrive this week in the mail. Fingers crossed, honey. I might just have to go re-read the Demon’s Lexicon trilogy to renew my (slightly) crazy love for SRB.

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