Thursday, April 02, 2009

March Reads in Review (2009)

photograph courtesy Philip Greenspun

Time to look back at another wahooey reading month!! This month, my reads are not listed in chronological order for reasons I won't go into. I started to go into them, but I was putting myself to sleep. I'll link up to my reviews, where applicable.


NF = Non-Fiction
YA = Young Adult
Ch = Children's

March Reads in Review:

1. Haunted Encounters: Ghost Stories from Around the World (NF) - An anthology of ghost stories written by professional writers who have had ghost encounters. Beautifully written and one of the most believable collections I've ever found. Could not put it down.

2. Zig-Zagging: Loving Madly, Losing Badly . . . How Ziggy Saved My Life by Tom Wilson (NF/Memoir) - The Ziggy creator's son tells how he took over the strip from his father and survived losing the love of his life. Touching, funny, sad, beautiful -- and plenty of Ziggy cartoons to enjoy.

3. It's a Green Thing: Diary of a Teenage Girl by Melody Carlson - The fictional diary of a teenager, daughter of a rock star and new Christian. The single most preachy book I've read in eons. I only finished it because it was a very quick read.

4. Throw Out 50 Things by Gail Blanke (NF) - Just what it sounds like, only she goes into throwing out mental clutter as well as objects. I really enjoyed this book, but I need to reread it, already, and really get to work.

5. The Musician's Daughter by Susanne Dunlap (YA) - When 15-year-old Theresa's father is killed and his valuable violin is stolen, Theresa sets out to solve the mystery and begins working as a copyist for Franz Haydn to help her family survive. I will review this one later and coordinate the review with a guest post by the author. Excellent story.

6. Sometimes My Heart Pushes My Ribs by Ellen Kennedy (Poetry and short stories) - It made me see everything as a potential poem.

7. As Shadows Fade by Colleen Gleason - The 5th and final book in the Gardella Vampire series. Bittersweet, action-packed and romantic. I will miss this series, but I was satisfied with the ending.

8. Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home by Thelma Meyers (NF) - Tips for cleaning anything you can name in your household, mostly using natural ingredients like salt, lemon, vinegar and baking soda. I'm keeping this one in the utility room for future reference.

9. Ghost Cats of the South by Randy Russell - I would classify these as legends, not real ghost stories, but they're beautifully told. Lots of witches and scary cats with glowing eyes.

10. Images of Madison County by Stephen Kirkpatrick - Mississippi photographer Kirkpatrick's 9th book of nature photos with text written by his wife, Marlo. I love his photography. I once took a workshop led by Kirkpatrick. He's an interesting man.

11. An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell - My favorite British chick lit author hits the American shores with a book about a girl who accepts her boyfriend's mother's offer to pay her to break up, but only because her father has thugs after him for a gambling debt. Can she win her first love back, 10 years later? Loved it, of course!

12. Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy - Oh, Simon, Simon. You can do no wrong. Another book of short stories, so awesome they made my toes curl. No wonder all the women are crazy about him; it's not just that Welsh accent. I'll review this one, soon.

13. 10 Things I Hate About Christianity by Jason T. Berggren (NF) - A Christian discusses things he dislikes about his own religion. I absolutely loved this book. There were a lot of, "Me, too!" moments.

14. Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney - A widower takes up with a new woman within weeks of his wife's death, not realizing that he is diverting himself from grief. But, they're both determined to make the relationship work. This is a Christian romance but the Christianity is just a part of characterization -- no preachy stuff.

15. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi - An alien that looks like a blob of Jell-o hires a Hollywood agency to help introduce him to humanity. This book has much more depth than you might imagine, but it's also witty and fun. Loved it.

16. Who by Fire by Diana Spechler - This book is hard to summarize in 25 words or less, but it's about a dysfunctional family divided by loss. Read the full review if you missed it. Note the Jewish fellow reading (a prayer book?) at the Western Wall, above. I thought his outfit sounded very much like the description of Ash's clothing in the book.

17. The Ever-After Bird by Ann Rinaldi - Young Cecelia and her uncle Alex travel with his black assistant to the South to seek out a scarlet ibis for him to paint and encounter the evils of slavery. This one will be reviewed in the next issue of Estella's Revenge. I liked it, but I didn't love it.

18. The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano - Melody has been in the Witness Protection program for 20 years. Bored, she pretends to have been found so she can change her life, again. But, she really has been located by someone from the Mafia family that wants her dead. Lots of action and a unique story. Review forthcoming.

19. Otto Grows Down by Michael Sussman (Ch, ages 4-6) - Adorable story about a boy who wishes his sister had never been born and gets his wish. But, time keeps going backwards. Can he stop it before he disappears? So, so sweet. I just love this book.

20. Monkey Monkey Monkey by Cathy MacLennan (Ch, ages 4-6) - A hungry
monkey searches for monkey nuts and then his father swoops him up and carries him home, where there's a big pile of nuts waiting and lots of cuddling. Adorable with gorgeous illustrations.

Yesterday, I received an ARC of SLOB by Ellen Potter in the mail. I started reading it and could not put that sucker down, so I was up a tad late. It's slated for release on May 12 and I think it's the most funny, witty, brilliant YA I've read in ages. If you're a YA lover, you really must stick this one on your wish list.

Today, I'll finish The King with Horse's Ears and Other Irish Folk Tales by Batt Burns. I like to drag out the reading of short-story books to let each one roll around in my head a bit before moving on, so this one has been in my sidebar for a while. I'm hoping to finish up the rest of the sidebar items this weekend, then start up a new batch. Gosh, isn't reading such fun?


  1. You had a great month of March. You got alot read. I only read 8 books for March. From your list of read books I read 3, 4, 8, and 11.

    Happy reading for April.

  2. Cindy,

    I enjoyed all of those except It's a Green Thing. Actually, I enjoyed everything I read except that one -- and The Ever-After Bird was my so-so read. Everything else was terrific. This was a tremendously fun reading month! :)

    Thanks, happy reading to you, too!

  3. What an awesome reading month! And I think you added more to my wishlist this month than you ever have before! Seriously...I think I need more shelf space...make that I KNOW I need more shelf space :p

  4. Sheesh...that's like a book every day and a half. And yes, you've succeeded in making me want SLOB already.

  5. Great reading month! Lots of good stuff there. :)

  6. I like the picture (the - most likely orthodox - Jew praying), but I can't stop wondering how it relates... ;-)

    Congrats on reading 20 books in one month! This is awesome!!!

  7. Chris,

    That's why they call me "trouble-maker" and "enabler". :) Do I get some bad blogger points? I'm dying to be a bad blogger. Thank you! I did have a terrific month, mostly because I loved almost everything I read!


    And, oddly, the rest of my life seems to have gone by the wayside. Or, maybe not so oddly. LOL You will not regret getting SLOB. I'm holding the review till its release, but just trust me. It's wonderful.


    Thanks! Yep, lots of terrific reading. I had such fun. My family missed me, though. ;)


    The photo is entitled "Reading at the West Wall," if I remember right. It came up when I looked up reading images. But, the reason I chose that photo is because it appeared to be an Orthodox Jew praying and Who by Fire had a protagonist who had joined a yeshiva in Israel. I wanted to share that, since a lot of other people have read that book and it was one of my March reads.

    Thanks! It was a great month!

  8. Ah, thanks! The book you mentioned sounds interesting. Maybe I should check it out :-)

  9. What a great month you had! I didn't read nearly as much. I've started Who By Fire, however, so I appreciate the picture :)

  10. Kathrin,

    Who by Fire is excellent! I highly recommend it. I'm pretty sure my review doesn't have any spoilers, so click on the link or page down a bit and read it, if you're interested. :)

    Gentle Reader,

    I kind of wish I'd found that photo at the beginning of the book! But, it's nice to see what the outfit looks like in real life, isn't it? Have fun reading! Yes, I had a terrific month. This month, I should probably take some time off and do some planting before it gets too hot or I will have regrets!

  11. Talk about a wahoo month! :)

  12. Haunted Encounters sounds fantastic. I love that stuff. :)

  13. Wow, you had a great month! That's awesome. I hope April will be just as productive.

  14. Wowzer! 20 books in one month. I'm very impressed!

    Love the photo of the Orthodox Jew!

    I'm so glad to hear that The Musician's Daughter was such a great read. I've got it and need to make time to read it before you post your review & interview with the author.

    I had to go back to word verification, too. I've been getting so much spam with the weird characters in the text of the message. Grrrrrr.

    Happy weekend!

  15. Iliana,

    Thanks! Yep, pretty wahooey!


    Haunted Encounters is really fun and suitably creepy. I love that kind of stuff, too. :)


    Thank you! I kind of doubt April will be quite as productive, but that's okay. Sometimes you have to actually do the laundry. ;)


    Thank you!

    Isn't that a great photo? And, the fellow who took it seems really nice. He asks just for a link and a donation to his pet charity, if you can, for the use of his photographs.

    I hope you enjoy The Musician's Daughter as much as I did. The author sent me my copy and she's a sweetheart. I've really enjoyed talking to her.

    The spam monsters have been really hitting blogs, lately, I noticed. I was deleting everything, but then I just got tired of it and decided to go back to word verification for the peace of mind. I think those characters had links to spammy places, so I didn't want to take a chance of anyone going somewhere bad through my blog, also.

  16. What a great list of books you read in March!

    I loved WHO BY FIRE, but haven't yet posted my review. I'm intrigued by THROW OUT 50 THINGS, but I don't know if I'd be able to identify the mental clutter and get rid of it!

  17. Anonymous3:18 PM

    Wahooey to the nth degree! that's a lot of books and I applaud your listing of a children's book since that will be the only way I get to 100 if I really do reach that crazy goal. How many books have you read already for April?

  18. Dawn,

    Thank you! It was a great reading month, for sure.

    The mental clutter bits of Throw Out 50 Things were interesting because the book read like a positive-thinking book, at that point. I liked it, but I've found the effects of positive thinking reads are temporary. I'm really more interested in getting rid of possessions. I enjoyed reading those bits, though!


    Why, thank you. LOL If I keep going at this rate, I'm going to seriously break my annual reading record. You're just busy. Give yourself a pat on the back for reading at all.

    In April, I've finished two books and I should finish another, tonight. They're all short, though, so it feels like I'm cheating. :)

  19. My goodness--HOW do you do it?? Sometimes I feel like even if I read for hours I get so little accomplished.

  20. Trish,

    I'm a slow reader, so honestly . . . I'm just being very badly behaved. Here's the key:

    Don't do housework.
    Request too many ARCs, so you feel pressured to hurry up and read them all.
    Become a whiz at microwave cooking.
    Read till your eyes cross.

    That works for me. ;)

  21. I would LOVE for you to read my book. I love what you said about disliking preachy books. My book is NOT Christian fiction. One of the themes of it is the hypocrisy inherent in religious fanatics. I invite you to check out Chapter 1- read it for free online-- and if you'd like to read and review my book, I'd love to send you a signed copy. Please let me know. Thanks! Glad I found your site. I'll be back.

    Beth Fehlbaum, author
    Courage in Patience, a story of HOPE..
    Ch. 1 is online!

  22. 20 books in a month is great! How do you find time for anything besides reading? ;)

    Diary of an Eccentric

  23. Beth,

    Thank you for asking! I'm not currently accepting books for review because I've got some catch-up to do, but I appreciate the offer!


    I haven't accomplished a single thing in months. It's been pitiful. My reading is going to have to drop, this month, or we may find ourselves buried.


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