Sunday, December 28, 2008

TSS - Yearly Wrapup

Time for a little review of the best and worst of my year in reading. First, though, a picture of one of my Christmas presents - The Reading Girl. Don't you love it? I can't decide where I want to put her, so right now she's hanging out above the fireplace. I had a very book-themed Christmas, which is wonderful. My mom also gave me two t-shirts, one which says "What's another word for Thesaurus?", and one which says "My book club can beat up your book club." Fun!

Also, I got a few gifts cards...but we'll talk about that tomorrow in Mailbox Monday. =)

So here we go, The Best and The Worst.

The Best -

1 - The Lions of Al - Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay - one of my favorite books of all time, I re-read this one in 2008 for the third time. I still cry in all the same places. This is, for me, a work of true brilliance.

2 - Bikeman by Thomas Flynn - This free-form poem captures all the shock and heartbreak of the day that was September 11. I've seen all the 9/11 movies, and watched the documentaries, but this is the first work that made me weep.

3 - The White Mary by Kira Salak - This novel, about a broken woman journeying to find her hero in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, took my breath away. About so much more than the actual journey, this story of redemption was one of the first ARC's I had a chance to review, and it was amazing.

4 - In Her Name by Michael R. Hicks - novels like this are why I will continue to read self-published work. The world of Reza Guard was completely engrossing, and I never wanted it to end. This is great fantasy writing!

5 - The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - if you haven't read this yet, GO READ IT before the movie comes out and ruins it for you. I think it is considered Young Adult, but it is mesmerizing and powerful and intense. Don't miss this one!

6 - Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi - Actually the fourth in a series, but good enough to stand alone. Zoe is one of the best young teenage women protaganists I've read in a long time, and she was created by a man! I can't wait for my niece to get big enough to read Zoe - and I'm so happy to have discovered John Scalzi, who is quickly becoming a favorite.

7 - Run by Ann Patchett - I'll say this for Patchett - she never writes the same novel twice. This beautiful story about a man trying to figure out how to keep his family together surprised me - I didn't really expect to like it as much as I did. This is why I'm saving Bel Canto - I don't want Patchett's novels to end.

8 - Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn - Another re-read this year, the first in a series about a young man named Takeo who has to figure out where in belongs in a world of assassins, secret sects, and powerful warlords. I love this series, but none of the books are as good as this first installment.

9 - The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan - yet another first-in-a-series, this story of young, abused Will coming into his own as a ranger's apprentice was excellent. Young adult, so quick reading, and the start of a series I am eagerly anticipating.

10 - The Host by Stephenie Meyer - I know ALL the reasons this shouldn't be on my best-of list - Meyer's writing is often not that good, her endings are trite, much of the novel is predictable - and yet, I loved this book. After reading her Twilight series, The Host feels like a writer coming into her own. I found the premise of the novel to be fascinating, and the relationship between Melanie and Wanderer heartbreaking. Maybe I'm too easy to please, but I couldn't have a list without The Host.

And now, The Worst - not in any particular order.....

In the Face by Lorelei Armstrong
- I think the reason this made my worst list is because it really had a GOOD premise, but was executed POORLY. I WANTED to love this novel, but I was mostly just bored by it. Very disappointing.

Talk to the Hand by Lynne Truss - this is on my worst list because it really started out good - funny, smart, critical - but by the end, just felt whiny. I hate whiny.

Sweetsmoke by David Fuller
- I'm pretty sure this one will land me in book blogger purgatory, but I really did not enjoy this novel. I know, I'm the only one - in the same way I'm the only person in the world who didn't enjoy Peace Like a River, I'm prepared to be alone on the island on this one.

My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates - Joyce and I have such a love/hate relationship - this one I really hated.

The White by Deborah Larsen
- someone I know REALLY LIKED this novel - can't remember who, but I think I'll not take any recommendations from them again, because I was not engaged at all with this one.

Red River Rising by Wendy Lea Meckel
- my mom warned me when she gave me this book to read that it wasn't very good, but it's about the area of Minnesota where she grew up, so I wanted to give it a chance - whew, she was right. Not good.

So far this year, I've read 144 books - pretty good, since my goal each year is always 100. I might get one more done before we officially ring in 2009, but I'm happy with my total. So - do you agree with my lists? Disagree? Think I'm crazy? Feel free to let me know - I love to hear your opinions!


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I think I'll give Boy in the Striped Pajamas a try, based on your comments!

My Cozy Book Nook said...

Thanks to your wonderful book reviews, I have now added about 5 more books to my TBR pile :)

It sounds like you had a lovely Christmas - I think the statue is precious.

Andi said...

I love reading the "Worst of" lists just as much as the "Best of" lists! Great job on both!

Fyrefly said...

The Lions of Al-Rassan is indeed a fantastic book - probably the my favorite of Kay's (close call, though). The last thirty pages or so just turned me into an absolute sobbing mess.

Literary Feline said...

That is a wonderful figurine! Very fitting. :-)

I enjoyed reading through your best and worst list. This time of year is always so much fun, seeing what everyone enjoyed most or liked the least.

So many of the books you mention that you especially liked this year are ones I want to read. I'm kicking myself for not having read any of them yet.

Kerrie said...

That's a pretty good total Elizabeth, nearly 3 a week. I read pretty narrowly, almost exclusively crime fiction, but you do make me feel like reading more widely.
All the best for 2009

Anonymous said...

I am dying to read 'The host'. Even though I agree Meyer's writing isn't the best, but her stories are wonderful and her writing style is simple.

bermudaonion said...

144 books is fantastic! Sadly, I haven't read any of the books on either of your lists.

Elizabeth said...

debnance - Read it! You will not forget it!

Molly - that's the danger of reading these lists! But I don't think you'll be disappointed with any of these.

Andi - sometimes the "worst of" are more fun than the "best of".

Fyrefly - it's so hard to pick a favorite Kay, isn't it? I always cry through the end as well - even though I know it's coming!

Literary Feline - well, that's the beauty of reading - there's always next year to catch up on that stack. =)

Kerrie - I sometimes wish I read more narrowly. I read just enough in every genre to not be able to make comparisons very well.

Violetcrush - I think The Host is a great read, and much better than the Twilight series!

BermudaOnion - well, I wouldn't recommend any on the "worst of" list. =) I'm afraid I'm going to find a whole new list of books to read when others start publishing their lists this year!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Elizabeth! Good heavens, I don't know how I missed this - didn't see it until you'd left the comment on my site.

But how awesome! Kind of cool that you rated In Her Name above John Scalzi (and quite a bit above Stephanie Meyer). (big grin!)

FYI, I'm going to re-release the book as a trilogy, and then am going to try and get to work on the next one (in my copious free time - LOL!).

Take care & talk to ya later!