Sunday, November 29, 2009

October Reads in Review - 2009

I just realized I'd better get around to posting my October reads because November is about to end! Because I casually participated in the Readathon without signing up, there were a few books I zipped through and only quoted, thinking it would be best not to knock myself out reviewing. I'll link to posts that contain mini-reviews or quotes, in those cases. I also read several episodes of Bone (graphic novels) without reviewing them because I have the huge volume that contains all 9 stories and planned to review the entire book when I finish. Of course, now I've forgotten a lot of what I read, so that may never happen.

Bookfool's October Reads in Review (links where applicable):

Key: CH = Children's
YA = Young Adult
NF = Nonfiction
GN = Graphic Novel
M = Memoir
HF = Historical Fiction

147. The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose (NF/M) - the memoir of a Brown University student who decided to go undercover for a semester at "America's Holiest University", aka Liberty University -- the university founded by Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell (who was still alive at the time). Surprisingly even-handed and skilled writing; I predict Roose will go far.

148. Breaking the Bank by Yona Zeldis McDonough - Mia's nearly at her wit's end when a miracle occurs. The automatic teller machine at her bank begins to give her extra money but it isn't deducted from her account. Each time she uses the machine, it gives her a little bit more; and, a mysterious message appears with the magical gift: "Use it well." I had trouble liking Mia, but I loved that touch of magic and the big-cast ending.

149. To Serve Them All My Days by R. F. Delderfield (HF) - A young Welshman returns from WWI France shell-shocked and is sent to a remote boys' school to teach as part of his therapy. He ends up finding his life's calling in teaching and makes himself a permanent home at Bamfyld. A beautifully-rendered saga.

150. Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne (Horror) - A young military man decides to disobey orders to return to base when a plague that turns people into zombies spreads world-wide. To save himself, he comes up with clever distractions. Eventually, he pairs up with his neighbor and they pick up a few stray survivors. Weird fun.

151. Crossing Myself by Greg Garrett (NF/M) - The true story of a Christian-turned-atheist (a professor at Baylor) who was on the verge of suicide when he had an epiphany and turned his life around, returning to his faith but at a different church. By the end of the book, he was studying at seminary in addition to writing and working as an English professor. Loved this book, which is full of his musings about religion, writing, loving each other, life and depression.

152. The Maze Runner by James Dashner (YA/Sci-fi) - A young boy awakens to find himself being pulled out of an elevator and into the center of a huge maze. He has no memory of his previous life but knows he wants to be one of the runners who look for an exit. Exciting, roller-coaster ride of a book. I hope they turn this one into a movie.

153. Cheating Death by Sanjay Gupta, M.D. (NF/Health) - The famous TV doctor talks about life-saving new discoveries and procedures that can save lives now, but which are not, in most cases, in widespread practice (at least in the U.S., where we have to overanalyze everything). An easy, breezy, fascinating read.

154. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (YA/Sci-fi) - The first in a series about a dystopian world where people are divided by looks. Tally wants to be a Pretty and catch up with her friend Peris, who is already living in New Pretty Town, but then she meets Shay and finds out about the Smoke, a place where people live off the land. Surprisingly deep social commentary and fun sci-fi.

155. Not Becoming My mother by Ruth Reichl (NF/Memoir) - a memoir about how unhappy Reichl's mother was being stuck at home when she desired to become a doctor. Beautiful writing, but thoroughly depressing because I'm pretty much her mother, tossed forward in time 30 years (except I have no interest in becoming a doctor).

156. The Sneeze by Anton Chekov (Plays) [Quote] - A series of hilarious plays. I knew Chekov was a comic genius but I've only read his short stories, in the past.

157. Bone, Vol. 1: Out from Boneville (GN) - The three Bones (annoying names, great characters) have been kicked out of their home because of one of Phoney Bone's schemes to make money. Separately, they stumble into a world where rat creatures chase them, a dragon helps them out, and they end up making friends with a tough old farm granny and her granddaughter. Hilarious, clean and adventurous.

158. Bone, Vol. 2: The Great Cow Race (GN) - More Bone fun. Can't remember the details.

159. Bone, Vol. 3: Eyes of the Storm (GN) - Uh-huh, total blank. I loved it, though; I remember that much.

160. PSmith in the City by P.G. Wodehouse (F) [Quote] - Psmith (a recurring character) and his friend Mike end up working in a city bank for differing reasons. Psmith is a witty, outspoken character who finds a way to make friends with almost everyone, but a banker who ruined Mike's cricket game is bent on making their lives miserable. I loved this book except for the cricket parts, which were a bit like trying to read a foreign language.

161. Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter (YA/Spy) - The second in a series of spy novels with a young heroine who attends spy school, Gallagher Hall. In this entry, Gallagher is attended (or, maybe "invaded") by boys from another spy school. After an overheard conversation, Cammie and her friends go on a mission to figure out the real reason for their presence. Almost unbearably fun. I'll reread this one when I manage to find the first.

162. No Idea by Greg Garrett (NF/M) - The second of Garrett's memoirs, following Crossing Myself, tells about his experiences in seminary and why he has not managed to be ordained in spite of successful completion. I didn't like this one as much as Crossing Myself, but I love his writing and find his experiences fascinating.

163. Bone, Vol. 4: Dragonslayer (GN) - Yep. More of the same.

164. Christian the Lion by Anthony (Ace) Bourke & John Rendall (CH) - A children's version of the story about a lion raised by two young Australian men living in London, written in scrapbook style. Delightful story. Christian the lion remembered his friends a year after release into the wild. The video of their reunion went viral, last year.

165. The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton [<--mini review w/in text of post] - A con artist sucks a young Bible salesman into his theft ring by telling him he'll be helping the FBI, but he's not banking on the young salesman finding love and figuring things out. Great ending; a bit of a yawn, though.

166. Constance & Tiny by Pierre Le Gall (CH) - Constance is a terrible brat. Together, she and her humongous cat Tiny get into all sorts of trouble. Adorable books with over-the-top rotten characters and cute artwork in black, red and pink.

167. Constance & the Great Escape by Pierre Le Gall (CH) - When Constance is sent to a special school for troublesome children, she turns the tables by playing nice.

That's 21 books read, in all, if you count children's books and graphic novels. It seems a bit like cheating but I read them so I'm counting them. I read a total of 4,527 pages. October was a hoopty fine month, regardless of how you look at it. I enjoyed almost everything I read and had fun dipping my toes into the Readathon pool. Next time, I'll actually dive in if my family doesn't thwart plans.


  1. You did great! I hope to finish my one book this month. :)

  2. Krista,

    Best of luck with that. It's hard when you're balancing a babe-in-arms with a bigger boy. Been there. I didn't read much when I had little ones. :)

  3. Most definitely a hoopty fine month! I'm going to have to give The Maze Runner a read one of these days. It looks like it's on its way to becoming a big hit this holiday season.

  4. Les,

    I think The Maze Runner is definitely a big hit. I just retweeted this Random House comment on twitter: THE MAZE RUNNER by @JamesDashner is one of Kirkus Reviews' "Best Young Adult Books of 2009"!

  5. I wonder if it's as good as The Hunger Games?

  6. Les,

    I can't say, since I haven't read The Hunger Games. I tried to but apparently wasn't in the right mood at the time. The Maze Runner, on the other hand, sucked me right in. You could always pick up a copy at the store and read a few paragraphs while you're not working, right? Just to see if you like it. And, then put it down if you don't. LOL

  7. Thanks for posting this!
    I am really wanting to read Greg Garrett.
    Thanks for the info

  8. Noelle,

    You're welcome! I am particularly fond of that first memoir by Garrett -- it's so raw and emotional. Now, I want to read his fiction, too. :)


Thank you for visiting my blog! I use comment moderation because apparently my blog is a spam magnet. Don't worry. If you're not a robot, your comment will eventually show up and I will respond, with a few exceptions. If a comment smacks of advertising, contains a dubious link or is offensive, it will be deleted. I love to hear from real people! I'm a really chatty gal and I love your comments!