Monday, December 02, 2013

November Reads in Review - 2013

Oh, dear.  I've only reviewed four of these so the descriptions are a bit longer than my normal "Month in Review" blurbs. In some cases this may be the extent of what I end up writing.

 122. The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 3 by HitRecord - Loved this third installment of the "Tiny Book of Tiny Stories" series.  The first was great, second was kind of meh and the third was back up to snuff.  This is the book that pulled me off the "not requesting" wagon. I'm climbing back on, honestly.

123. The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett - The story of a TV evangelist who makes a big mistake but refuses to apologize.  He's thrown out of the church he founded, his wife is paid off (to keep her from speaking to the press) and he ends up being taken home by his father, who is dying but would have forgiven his son, anyway.  A modern retelling of the Biblical "Prodigal's Son," not a perfect book but I particularly loved the fact that the minister learns his lesson yet not everything works out as he'd like it to, in the end.

124. Mousekin's Lost Woodland by Edna Miller - Mousekin's home is razed by the lumber industry and he and the other animals must find another place to live.  I decided this one was too sad -- was looking for secondhand books for my sister's grandson -- so I didn't bring it home and then I decided it was actually the best of the three books I read (I didn't log the other two).  Naturally, I bought the others and decided I'm just going to take them back.  I took Sister a stack of pretty books I reviewed, instead. 

125. The Emperor's Nightingale and Other Feathery Tales by Jane Ray - My favorite children's book of the month, a book of collected tales and poems about or featuring birds, some familiar, some not.  I absolutely loved the author's personal touch.  She retold many of the stories and they sound a lot like the fairy tales of my childhood.  I wasn't as enamored of the illustrations as the stories but I liked them, some more than others. 

126. Death Wish by Lindsey Menges - My niece's first book, a dystopian tale about a woman who works as a "Fairy Godmother" for a corporation that provides the death wishes of people who are tired of living in a world where disease has been eradicated. I was so impressed with this book - great pacing, skilled writing, excellent plot. It needs a bit of editing but I hope someday this book will find its way to traditional publication. Lindsey has labeled it YA but since the heroine is slightly older I think it's probably best classified as New Adult but the story is very clean, lacking sex and bad language and the heroine is in an established relationship (all of which I really, really appreciated).

127. The Inimitable Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse - Bingo falls in love repeatedly, Bertie finds himself engaged to a woman who gives him the shivers and Jeeves continues to save the day.  The Jeeves and Wooster stories are faultlessly entertaining.  So much happens that they feel more like short stories cobbled together, which is fine. Wodehouse makes me smile and sometimes laugh out loud.  I needed an upper and I got it.

128. Transparent Things by Vladimir Nabokov - A man recalls repeated visits to the same village in Switzerland over a span of 20 years.  As I closed the book, I felt like I was left with quite a few questions and then suddenly I realized Nabokov answered them all . . . and understanding made the story twice as creepy.  Not long after reading Transparent Things and feeling completely blown away by Nabokov's writing, as always, I read that he wrote a limited number of words per day and his goal was to make every sentence perfect.  Well, that explains a lot. 

129. A Good American by Alex George (reread) - I suggested that my F2F group read and discuss A Good American after immigration came up in discussion of another book (can't remember which one). I enjoyed revisiting the family saga of the Meisenheimer family as much the second time as the first.  Everyone in my reading group loved it and we had a huge turnout so that's quite a recommendation.  We used the questions from Alex's website as prompts for discussion and I kind of wish we hadn't.  Some provoked interesting conversation and led to thoughts beyond the initial question but others fell flat. 

130. A Great and Complicated Adventure by Tellegan and Ahlberg (reread) - Cute stories, reread specifically to review and loved it as much the second time. 

131. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh - I grabbed a copy of Hyperbole and a Half on the way to Oklahoma and actually read a good portion of it in the car, even though I normally cannot read in a moving vehicle (I still looked up frequently).  Loved blogger Allie Brosh's memoir about childhood, depression, life with her dogs, a strange experience with a goose, etc.  I've only been to her blog once, when the second part of her depression story went viral and I followed a link.  It made me laugh and I purchased the book solely on the basis of that single post. I'm glad I did.  I absolutely loved the book and was particularly enamored of the stories about her dogs. She is the best kind of pet owner.  Although her pets are far from perfect, when she adopts they're forever pets.  I love her for that alone.

132. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard - A prison escapee asks a lonely, depressed woman and her son, who is unaware of how much he's missing in life, to take him home with them and they agree.  Over the Labor Day holiday, he changes the direction of their lives and leaves a lasting impression.  Such a raw, surprising book.  I absolutely gobbled it up and cannot wait to read more by Joyce Maynard.

133. The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (YA) - A steampunk mystery starring two young females.  Mina Holmes (niece of Sherlock) and Evaline Stoker (Bram's younger sis) are asked to solve the mysterious deaths of two young socialites and find another who is missing. A time traveler from the future, Egyptian scarabs, missing girls, a person who wants to bring back an Egyptian goddess . . . there's an awful lot going on in this book, a bit too much for me and the story was not wrapped up enough to suit me.  Eventually, I got into the story but it took a while to get used to that strange, alternate world and in the end I was disappointed.

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  1. That looks like a stellar month to me!

    1. Thanks, Andiloo! I'm pretty happy with this month's reading. :)

    2. Oh, your niece wrote a book? That's pretty cool! I really want to get the Colleen Gleason! I forgot it on my Christmas list. Must remedy that!

    3. Yes, my niece wrote a book and it is excellent. She was working on her bachelor's degree when she wrote it and did her last edit while in grad school so I was doubly impressed. She opted to self-publish because she's so busy but I really think it's better than a lot of other books in the same genre and hope she'll eventually try to sell it to a traditional publisher. I think it'll get snapped up, when she does. Wish you were nearby. I'd just give you my ARC of Colleen's book!!!


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