2011: Books in Review

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To see my stats for 2010, click here.

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 this year was to read slightly more than 2010 (where I read 239 books). I was aiming for 250. Success! But I also spent more (and on less books). But I also made more! Time for stats (how I love them.)


Books Read: 274

Books Partially Read: 73

Books Bought: 61

Money Spent: $262

Money Made: $348

Books Borrowed: 185

Books Given: 111

Books Re-read: 74 (27% of total books read)

Average books on To-Be-Read shelf during the year: 48.6 (I really need to winnow this down. New Year’s resolution? And by winnow down I mean: Stop Bringing More Books Into The House!)

Other statistics:

Total Books In: 357

Total Books Read/Started: 347

Of all the books I read or started to read compared to the books that came into my house this year that only leaves 10 I never even started. Did I start out with a huge backlog in January? I must have since I still have 71 books on the To-Be-Read shelf right now. Hm, no, it says only 26 on that blog. There is some funky math happening here. Oh! No, it’s the re-reads I think. That would account for it. (Still some funky math but I’m ignoring it).

Spent approximately $4.30 a book. Not great. I did better at this last year ($2.33/book).

I borrowed a lot less from the library this year (230 vs. 185). I also was given more books this year (111 vs. 58). Damn ARCs.

Last year I calculated that I spent about 10% of the year reading. This year (based on the same math) it’s 12%. Not a huge difference but still pretty sizable over a whole year.

Favorite Books of 2011:


Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Henrietta’s War and Henrietta Sees It Through by Joyce Dennys

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


As You Desire by Connie Brockway

Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips


Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan

Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin

Harmony by Project Itoh


Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson

Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson

Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives by Kate Theimer


Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

YA Fantasy

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Wither by Lauren DeStafano

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves

Eona by Alison Goodman


Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill

George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M.Valente


December 2011

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I continue to be sick and I continue my reading ways. I was telling my mother that I made my goal of reading 250 books in 2011 and asking what my goal should be for 2012. 300? 275? She said, “Get a job and read less books.” Aw, moms.

Books Read: 19

Books Partially Read: 0 (this seems odd. Maybe I forgot some?)

Books Bought: 9

Money Spent: $40

Books Borrowed: 12

Books Given: 9

Books Re-read: 5

Money made (from selling books): $134. (at Powell’s and also many copies of my book, Book ‘Em.)

Books on To-Be-Read Shelf: 71

Favorite Books this month: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Diva Without a Cause by Grace Dent, As You Desire by Connie Brockway, and The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin.

The Night Circus was the first book I read last month and it was fabulous. It’s a fiction book about a magician competition set in a circus (which provides the means by which the magicians demonstrate their powers). The competitors are these two old guys but they don’t fight, they assign proxies who are then trained and enslaved to the battle. It was gorgeous and fabulous and I loved it. Also it was begun once upon a time during a NaNo so there’s that camaraderie going for it too.


“It is important,” the man in the grey suit interrupts. “Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that.” He takes another sip of his wine. “There are many kinds of magic, after all.”

–From The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Diva Without a Cause was ridiculous. I cannot stress this enough. The cover. The writing. It’s super SUPER slangy Brit YA. And not normal Brit slang, Chav slang. It’s quite different. I thought I knew a lot of Brit slang but no, I discovered, I really don’t. Even with all the ridiculousness happening, I still kind of loved it. It’s very funny and sweet. And funny. Also funny was watching my cousin James snort-giggle at the dictionary in the back over Christmas.


Cousin James and my book. And a rooster quilt.

As You Desire by Connie Brockway is obviously a romance novel as you probably already guessed. But what a romance! It’s set in Egypt and I LOVE Egypt. It’s got great characters and back stories and research and history (there’s a lot of archaelogy). The writing is of a much higher caliber than some romance novels–ie there are 6 syllable words in this book. I’ve read a lot of Connie Brockway at this point over the last year and this is one of the best (which also includes Bridal Favors and Bridal Season which I also re-read this month). She wrote a sequel to As You Desire which I have ordered but not gotten yet. Super excited as it is also set in Egypt.


“…Face lifted for the sun god’s caress…Why, look,…even Ra himself cannot resist you. Only see how he lathes your cheeks and brow with his heated tongue…marking you with his golden kiss?…How can a mere mortal man stand a chance if even the gods are so enamored?…And how can one single image describe you? You are a country, a country of unexplored sensation and whim, veiled in dawn, shining, shedding light. See how the long fluid line of your throat flows to your breasts?…Or how their blue-shadowed curves open above the smooth plain of your belly?…Your mouth…Your mouth is a sweet well sealed against me, keeping me thirsting for the clarity of your kiss. Your flesh is like the desert sand, warmth and shifting strength beneath its golden color. Your palms open, fingers flexed, are minarets, delicate and elegant. And your body…it is the Nile itself–by the narrows of your waist and jettied hips to the lush delta below…You are my country, Desdemona…My Egypt, my hot, harrowing desert and my cool verdant Nile, infinitely lovely and sustaining.”

–From As You Desire by Connie Brockway.

Hoo! It makes me want to fan myself and watch The Mummy.

Kingdom of Gods was the third in the trilogy of Jemisin’s and it did not disappoint. It’s way better than the second one though still not as good as the first one. This is high quality fantasy novel with a well-developed world, religion, and political structure (though politics were actually slightly less important in this one than religion and familial relationships–though that family was very political). There’s a lot of new characters in this one and a lot of the ones from book 1 back again. The end was fabulous. It gave me a lot of things I don’t normally get out of a book–polyamorous relationships for starters. Which is something I’ve been considering writing about lately because seriously, where are those books? Maybe I just don’t know the right places to look.

Honorable Mentions: Pirates Ninjas Zombies. Yup. I read my draft and copy-edited some and then was disappointed in it and now am going to make Kris read it and give me feedback. Sigh. It’s still good and I enjoy it and love it. But it NEEDS something and I don’t know how to put that need into words. Or action to fix it.

Least Favorite Books this month: Meh, nothing so bad it’s worth mentioning as it turns out.


Christmas Eve, Michele Style

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On Christmas Eve we played a little Apples to Apples. Cousin Kevin and I became embroiled in a competitive battle to amass all the green cards. Uncle Dick quietly and methodically just collected them off on the side so at the end the three of us were in a heated battle. No, wait. Two of us were in a heated battle and one of us was just moseying around, snagging the last green card. I don’t even remember what happened in the last round except that I lost but in the penultimate round….well, that was a good one.

The word? It doesn’t matter what it was because it was Vadin’s turn. We’ll call it “Contrary” because it’s the best word for Vadin. Vadin is 13 years old. Or maybe 12. Who knows. And he solely pick his favorite red card based on THINGS HE LIKES. He often doesn’t know the meaning of the green card OR the meaning of a red card. Picking one from your hand to give him is a crap shoot. You know he likes dogs so you’ll pick a dog but you’ll manage to pick a breed of dog he doesn’t like. I gave him the FBI once thinking maybe he would like them based on his taste in movies? I mean movies with FBI in them sometimes have car chases and explosions. But his exact words as he tossed it aside were, “I hate the po-po.”


So, penultimate round and Kevin and I have recently discovered that I am winning with 7 green cards and he has 6. Also Uncle Jim has been by to mock me for my child-hood way of throwing a tantrum when playing cards until my brother let me win just to shut me up. He’s just jealous of all the cash money I won off him playing poker when he was drunk and I was EIGHT.

The word is not “contrary” but we’re saying it is. I give Vadin “Toys”. This is the best I can do. I mean, TOYS. He LOVES toys. Kevin gives him “Toasting Marshmallows”. It doesn’t matter what anyone else gave him.

Vadin: I like toys…

Me: That’s right you do. Toys are GREAT.

Kevin: You know what else is great? Toasting Marshmallows.

Me: What would you rather be doing–sitting in a cold dark forest on a damp log watching your marshmallow burn or being inside playing a video game?

Kevin (muttered): Dammit.

I know my youngest cousin. But I always underestimate the other one.

Vadin: So toys includes video games?

Me: Yes. It includes all the toys. All of them.

Kevin: Even BARBIES.


Vadin: I don’t like [with proper tween boy disgust] Barbies.

So Kevin won that round. And Dick somehow snuck in and won the next and last one and the three of us each ended up with 7 green cards in a big old tie. Heh. I was SO CLOSE.


A Paw-full of Honey

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Last weekend I went to a party at Adam and Christine’s where many things were discussed. The Little Rooster. Snorks that live in Gene’s urine. But perhaps my favorite was when Kris and I somehow came to the conclusion that if we only had a contraption of floating bees you could wear–like a neck-mobile–and we put it on Jon and a jar in his hand he could be Winnie-the-Pooh and get his paw stuck in the honey.

Oh, I remember how this came about now. Gene told us that Jon had bought 10 gallons of honey to make mead and I pictured him just eating 10 gallons of honey by the paw-full. Possibly swimming in it like Pooh does in the new movie. The point is that I’m going to make him (and mostly me for my own delight) a bee neck-mobile.

But on with my story which really occurred last night.

Yesterday I drove with my mom up to Salem to my Aunt Mary’s house. I forgot my toothbrush at home but Mary said I could have one of the ones the dentist foisted on her. So we got to her house and she offered me my choice of two toothbrushes. One just an ordinary guy–blue and clear plastic. The other! A Winnie-the-Pooh toothbrush with a bee hive and bees and Pooh on it!

“Jon!” I cried, “How did you get here so tiny and cute?”

Oh adorable toothbrush, you have reinforced my need to see the man in a bee-mobile. Buzzzzzzzzzz.


Life…or something like it.


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In line with my new stage of Pathetic Living, I spent Friday and Saturday nights this week on the couch voraciously clicking my way through episodes of a recently discovered TV show. This show, which I feel you all really need to learn about, is titled “Dance Academy”. To be clear it is made for tweens. Not even teenagers, tweens.

Ok, maybe it’s made for teens too.

It’s about some 15-17 year old dancers in Australia. I’d say five main ones and then some others. Maybe Ethan counts as a main one too since he is in the opening credits. Whatever. They all get in to the National Dance Academy and move into the boarding house, take lessons, fall in love, are ridiculous, etc. The first season is 26 episodes and they’re 24 minutes long. I watched all of them in two days. It took so long because I also had to make a lot of cupcakes and cheesecakes for a baby shower (new niece) and attend the baby shower (for 4 hours). Am I trying to say it was hard to be away from the show for that 4 hours? Yes. Yes, I am.

I very quickly fell in love with Christian (because he’s the troubled hot one at the Academy on bail for robbing a server station). I feel only marginally disgusted with myself for lusting after a 16 year old. Oh thank god. He was born in 1992. Never mind. He was totally legal during filming.


I can’t help myself.

Anyway as I became deeply invested in this truly terrible show, I sent a barrage of emails to Kris to make sure someone knew I was going off the deep end.

I discover the show:

a teen dancers tv show?!?!

Netflix page

will it be terrible? will it be wonderful? it will def be australian. i am watching it!

I start watching:

sheeps! baby kangaroo! bitchy girl! sassy blond!

It continues:

On episode 7. I’m learning some valuable Australian life lessons and I hardly even mind the voice-over.

Also, I’m in love with Christian. Obviously. Tamahome!

I’m starting to unravel:

now on episode 22. have taken to yelling at the screen COPIOUSLY. also just re-watched ep 20 around the 17 minute mark. oh shirtless christian…. might watch it again. my happiness over that didn’t even last an episode. goddamn this girl.

there’s only 5 episodes left! what will i do when it’s over?!?!

how has dance academy become my life? seriously, how?

The final line above also becomes my FaceBook status update.

Subject line of this one–“omg. who am i?”:

i honestly just called (well, yelled. and using outdoor voice no less) the main character (who, mind you, is a 16 year old girl) a “fucking whore slut bitch.”


*hangs head in shame*

And then this happened:

boys kissing dance academy.jpg

Oh holy shit. It happened.

The “my life is over” email:

i’ve run out of episodes and season 2 isn’t available yet!!! I NEED SOME DISTANCE FROM THIS SHOW.

Season 2 doesn’t start airing until January but I just found and watched a trailer for it and…it kind of looks amazing. DAMN THIS SHOW. DAMN IT TO HELL.


The main girl’s real name is Xenia which is also the name I used in a baby shower contest for my new niece. Erin liked it. How awesome would it be if my new niece was NAMED AFTER AN ACTRESS FROM DANCE ACADEMY? You know it would be incredible. You know it.


November 2011

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Last month I said I needed to read 9 books this month in order to stay on track for my annual reading goal. I so far surpassed that I have already reached the goal. December will simply be gravy. Possibly some actual gravy. Mmmm, gravy. Don’t judge me, I’ve been eating broth for a month.

Books Read: 22

Books Partially Read: 4

Books Bought: 8

Money Spent: $35.00 (8 copies of Book ‘Em for giveaways and editing)

Books Borrowed: 23

Books Given: 3

Books Re-read: 0

Money made (from selling books): $57. And you know what books I sold? MINE! 23 copies of my self-published novel, Book ‘Em.

Books on To-Be-Read Shelf: I’m not willing to count that box. We’ll call it 70.

The problem with this month is that I read a surprising amount of great books. I’ll keep it short. Or as short as possible. For me. You know what that means.

Favorite Books This Month: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, The Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman, Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise, also by Kate Klise: Over My Dead Body, Regarding the Trees and Deliver Us From Normal; The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan, and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

Lola and Anna by Stephanie Perkins are both contemp YA novels. I read them out of order which didn’t REALLY matter, still I would rec reading Anna first. They were both fabulous–great dialogue and fast, smooth plots. Excellent secondary characters and super romantic adorableness. There’s a third book in the series (they are stand alones but loosely related) coming out and I am excited to read it too. Anna is set in Paris and Lola in San Francisco.

All the Kate Klise ones I read because my mom brought home Dying to Meet You from school where it is currently all the rave among the 4th graders. It’s told entirely in letters and newspaper articles and is about a haunted house, an 11 year old boy, and a grumpy old man. They’re cute and funny. I proceeded to read a ton of her books. I’d already read Regarding the Fountain (the first in that series) but I discovered there were more of them and read all of those–they’re about a class of kids and their friendship with a super eccentric inventor. And then I read Deliver Us From Normal which is an actual novel (not epistolary) and was great. I didn’t like the sequel as much (Far From Normal) but it was also interesting. They’re about a lower-middle class family with 5 kids and their problems with the town they live in (Normal, IL) and how they run away and buy a houseboat. On the whole I heartily recommend all of Kate Klise’s writing–great stuff especially for kids who don’t like to “read” since the letter format also incorporates a lot of pictures and they’re very easy to get into.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is about a princess with a God-stone in her belly and is (obviously) a fantasy novel with quests and battles and romance. It was good. The princess starts off super chubby and becomes more and more likable as she discovers her purpose. Pretty sure it’s the first in a series. I will totally read the next one.

The Name of the Star is about a girl who is going to school in Paris, can see ghosts, and has a run in with a Jack the Ripper copycat. It was the first YA boarding school book set in Paris I read this month (Anna being the other one). I liked Anna better in terms of description and use of the city, but Star was also really good in terms of plot and interest factor.

This is not short at all. I’m sorry.

The Medusa Plot is the first book in the second series in the Cahill books started by Gordan Korman. It’s now the Cahills vs. Vespers series instead of The 39 Clues. I am still completely enthralled by this story and irritated by how long I will have to wait between books AGAIN. This actually is a common theme in November. I read WAY too many books which were the first in a series. Generally without knowing it was going to be a series until the end and then being pissed. I really want some stand alone novels in December now.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is about a girl who survives a horrific accident, may or may not have PTSD and/or amnesia and/or powers. The title and cover art = superb. The story was excellent (though this is the third book I’ve read in as many months about a girl who wakes up in a hospital with no idea how she got there. This one was better than the others though. I don’t even remember their names.) Also a series, dammit.

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan. Ugh. Tiernan wrote the horrid cursed Sweep series which I have read and own and is like 14 or 15 books long. They’re so terrible and yet SO ADDICTIVE. This one was just as bad and yet also just as compelling. And it’s also the first in a new series. It better not be 14 books long. I’m relatively sure it’s only a trilogy. Anyway it’s about people who are immortal and how they elect to spend their lives. The main character starts off as a party girl in Europe and then moves to a farm commune in America in order to be a better person. There’s a lot about sustainable agriculture which shouldn’t be so interesting BUT IT IS. My description is making this book sound terribly uninteresting, I get that. There’s also a lot of other characters and we learn details about their lives and since many of them are immortal they’ve had really long and fascinating lives. Also they have magic powers. And there’s a pretty hot love-story happening. Damn Cate Tiernan.

Honorable Mentions: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake and Goliath by Scott Westerfield.

This Anna–gorgeous title and cover. About a psychotic ghost dripping blood everywhere off her white party dress and super creepy black veins a la Willow is worth mentioning. The main male character I was bored with kind of quickly but I really liked the Anna parts. Also a stupid first in a series presumably based on that ending.

Goliath delightfully was the third and final in a series. Finally, an ending! Although it was kind of an open-ended nonsense of “And then they all went off to do this….” And you’re like, “Yeah? What was that like?!” and you turn the page and DON’T KNOW. Still this series was pretty great. Alterna steam-punk/Darwinist creation nonsense World War II historical revisionism. Fascinating. Also pretty art is included.

Least Favorites: Bloodlines by Richelle Mead, Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, If You Give A Girl A Viscount by Kieran Kramer and Snuff by Terry Pratchett.

I’ve given up on Richelle Mead. She started off so great with the Vamp Academy series and the Succubus series. But then they went downhill so fast. And this new series which is a spin-off of VA? I can’t do it. I just can’t.

Everyone has been raving about Game of Thrones but I just couldn’t deal with it. I’m sure they’re great but no character being sacred unnerves me and I was sick enough still this month that I wanted nice pleasant things to be happening, not 7 year olds being thrown out of high towers or sweet girls getting raped.

Kieran Kramer’s 4th in the Impossible Bachelor series actually wasn’t that bad but then the epilogue was so disjointed from the rest of the novel that I was thrown for a loop and vaguely nauseated by the abrupt transition. What happened? I don’t even care. I like When Harry Met Molly still and Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage all right but this one was a dud. I wonder what she will write next now that she’s done with the Impossible Bachelors. And yes, that is an indicator that I will continue to read her books so I must not dislike them that much.

Snuff….after the early Watch books, I started to dislike the Vimes centered ones. He’s SOOOOO repetitive and this entry into the cannon was a huge offender. I can only read so much about how he’s a cop before I want to scream, “Yes, you like the law, all right! Shut the fuck up already!” It’s really long and only marginally good in small doses.

I’ll try to like fewer books in December. I’m already loving The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern though, just a warning.



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On Saturday I went to San Francisco to see the new touring show of Cirque du Soleil–Totem.

On the whole, I was not super impressed with this show. Admittedly, I was also on a lot of Sudafed for my cold. But it just seemed, for the most part, like tricks I’d seen in previous shows and in several of the acts as if they weren’t even challenging themselves. For example, the very last act was a bunch of men and some flexible bouncy beams. Two men would hold a beam, a third smaller, slighter man/boy (I swear one was maybe 15) would bounce on the beam and do mid-air somersaults and then land on it again. All of this was done without a net or a harness line. Some of it was incredibly dangerous, yes. But it was also short and only one of the acrobats actually did amazing things. The 15 year old one was totally novice. I was like, really?

The story of this show seemed to be kind of aboriginal/evolution. There was a guy who was sort of an anthropologist/Darwin who wove in and out watching the acts which were primarily made up of lizard people, apes, and indigenous persons (observation based entirely on my understanding of their costumes). But then there were some random elements. A disco ball person? Some super sparkly girls doing juggling with square shaped clothes they spun on their fingers and toes? They had no relevance to the storyline and thus seemed terribly out of place. Though, man those sparkly costumes were awesome.

My favorite act in the first half was the five Chinese(?) girls on unicycles. 1) Their costumes were most excellent–weird little skirts made out of leaves and/or feathers, tattooed bodysuits, a lot of glitter, and amazing face make-up designs which I had a great view of being in the third row. 2) Those bikes were HIGH and they were flipping bowls onto their own heads and each others while riding the bike with one foot. It was impressive. Though it did not, admittedly, really fit into the aboriginal theme either. Whatever. Maybe they were supposed to be some kind of animals…

Monocycles_d_auclair_Cirque du Soleil_1.jpg

My favorite act of all was definitely the yellow-clad couple in the second half who played on the trapeze. I’m relatively sure they were supposed to be portraying love-birds–in this case: actual birds. Their act was a lyrical ballet and it was seriously incredible the things they did on the trapeze bar thing. But everything was smooth and flowed from one trick to another. They moved their bodies very gracefully and had absolute trust in one another to be where they needed to be in each moment. I could have just watched them play on the trapeze for two hours. That would have been fine. It didn’t hurt that the male half of the duo was quite possibly the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. At the end of the show there was this dance number they all did and he was directly in front of me on the left side of the stage (and remember I was in the third row so this was a close-up). Holy Sweet Baby Jesus. His face is just stunning. And part of the dance was distinctly Bollywood in flavor so he repeatedly did this shoulder roll thing that was positively designed to make the female and gay members of the audience salivate.


So, I guess what I’m saying is this show was pretty good but maybe not worth $100. Plus $30 in parking (RIDICULOUS). But if you can find some video or better pictures of love-bird-man, I heartily recommend it.

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