Sunday, June 06, 2010

May Reads in Review (2010)

Last catch-up post on past months' reading and then I can return to reviewing.

May Reads in Review (links to reviews provided, if applicable):

59. A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass (YA) -Mia has felt like a freak since the day she was heckled for writing a math problem in a variety of colors, at school. She sees sounds, numbers and letters in color. When she finds out she has synesthesia, she tries to enhance the sensations and almost loses touch with the rest of the world. Then a sudden loss changes everything.

60. The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy (Gen Fic) - Simon's wonderful first book, republished by HarperPerennial with an extra story. Will also review this one, soon.

61. Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby (NF) - The third and, apparently, last collection of Hornby's columns about the books he's bought and read, orig. published in Believer magazine.

62. Non Campus Mentis, ed. by Anders Hendriksson (Humor) - The first of Hendriksson's books of hilarious mistakes (some probably deliberate) written by college students.

63. Life in Spite of Me by Kristen Anderson (NF/Memoir) - The memoir of a young woman who attempted suicide by lying down on train tracks and instead lost her legs but lived to tell her tale and become a Christian who works to prevent suicide.

64. The Prophecy by Dawn Mills (YA/Paranormal) - A classic tale of good versus evil, in which a group of 5 young people must protect the world from fallen angels.

65. Faustine by Emma Tennant (Gen Fic) - The Devil made her do it. An updated version of Faust, in which a young Australian seeks out her grandmother and finds, instead, the Devil and a woman who sold her soul for youth and beauty.

66. Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka (CH) - Aliens have invaded a classroom and Michael K. must help them. Meanwhile a bumbling agent of the Anti-Alien Agency tries to stop them. The first in a new series.

67. If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous (Gen Fic) - After her father's suicide, Marina is lost. She travels to Japan to teach English with her lesbian lover but the relationship and the new life aren't quite what she anticipated.

68. A Hundred Feet Over Hell by Jim Hooper (NF/Vietnam) - The true story of the Catkillers, men who flew in slow, weaponless aircraft at low altitudes to mark targets. Vivid, first-person accounts make for a very exciting, emotional read.

69. Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev (YA/Fantasy) - The Theatre Illuminata is Bertie Shakespeare's only home. But, when she's told she must leave, she's determined to find a way to make a contribution so that she may remain in her home. Utterly magical tale with mischievous fairies, a dashing pirate and a dangerously seductive air spirit.

70. Appetite for Detention by Sloane Tanen (YA) - A very short book about life as a teenager, with minimal text and hilarious photos in which the teenagers are fluffy chicks.

71. Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden (Memoir) - A Vanderbilt heiress shares what it was like to grow up surrounded by entitlement, luxury and dissipation.

72. F My Life, ed. by Vallete, Passaglia and Guedj (NF) - I've never seen the website, but this book is a collection of anecdotes about very bad experiences. Some were side-splitting, but the vast majority were just revolting.

73. Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff (Hist. Fic) - An elderly lady reflects on her brief affair with a traveling man while her husband was away at war.

74. Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert (NF/Science) - Brace yourself for the a terrifying look at climate change by a journalist who traveled the world to speak to scientists in a variety of fields. Each described different signs pointing to dramatic change in our time and the deadly changes yet to come, as well as the truth about what dramatic climate change has done to humans in the past.

75. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler (YA) - Friendship and honesty are challenged when two best friends grieving a tragic loss go to California with the goal of meeting twenty boys.

76. The Secret Lives of Princesses by Lechermeier, illus. by Dautremer (CH) - A startlingly beautiful, quirky book about princesses for children. Plan to review this one very soon -- a book that little girls will want to read over and over and over and over.

77. The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen (Hist. Rom) - An action-packed romance in which a governess is sent to a French Duke's home to find evidence that he's a spy.

78. Sunrise in the West by Edith Pargeter (Hist. Fic) - The first book in The Brothers of Gwynedd, full of intrigue and war, clever women and wily men in Welsh and English royalty, during the Middle Ages.

And, now, we shall return to everyday reviewing. Obviously, I still have plenty of reviews to get to. This week, I finished only one book -- just one!! Horrors. I've been wrapped up in The Passage by Justin Cronin and it's taking me forever, so I may do some quick little side reads, just to ease my mind. The Passage is an excellent reminder of why I dislike chunksters (I'm too slow!!!!); but, it's so gripping that I can't talk myself into not picking it up at night.

I'm also reading Emma by Jane Austen (brain break material) and still have not touched A Rumor of War in well over a week. Hopefully, I'll be able to dive right back into Rumor, when I'm ready. Emma and A Rumor of War have the advantage of lacking urgency, whereas The Passage is an ARC and needs to be finished as soon as possible. The release date is Tuesday and I've heard the library queues are already quite long in some places. I have a feeling it will sell very, very well. I'm finding I agree with the hype over The Passage.

What are you reading, today?


  1. Looks like you've been doing a lot of good reading. Looking forward to reading those reviews of A Mango-Shaped Space and The Secret Lives of People in Love.

    I'm reading The Vera Wright Trilogy by Elizabeth Jolley. It's one of those that's a little frustrating because it's a thick book that's a bit of a slow go, but it's really good, so I have to stop thinking about how it's taking me a little longer, because, hey, if it's good, then it's worth the extra time!

  2. Megan,

    Yep, I've read a lot of terrific books in recent months. Hopefully, I'll get to both of those reviews, this week. They've been waiting on me quite long enough.

    I've got that Elizabeth Jolley trilogy and was thinking about taking it with me on vacation. Do you think it's too heavy (as in "slow reading") for a vacation book? I like really light books when I'm traveling because everything distracts me. I usually just end up people-watching when I'm in transit.

  3. Right now I am reading Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson. Probably will be the only one I read for awhile. :) I got it from the library. Okay back to straightening. I got the bassinet and the baby swing off to some other people. I posted an ad to Craigslist. I am hoping to hear about my maternity clothes soon. :)

  4. Krista,

    I've never read anything by Diane Mott Davidson, although I bought some of her books in the library sale -- and then decided to swap them. I've heard they're great.

    Sounds like this move is keeping you hopping!

  5. The Jolley is really good, but I think if I were you I'd pick something a little lighter for vacation reading. I feel like I need to be pretty tuned into it to enjoy it, so it probably wouldn't be so great if you're liable to get distracted!

  6. Megan,

    Thanks! That's good to know. Maybe I'll take a couple of YA books, instead. I appreciate the answer!!

  7. That really looks like a good set of books to me! I am right now reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri and absolutely loving it :) The more I progress the more I see that it's not 'just a children's book.'

    Also, love your reviews here, so adding you on my blogroll :)

  8. If you are interested in Semper Cool by Barry Fixler please email warthroughthegenerations at gmail

  9. Wow, that's some good reading you got done last month! I really want to read The Passage, too!

  10. Birdy,

    May was a terrific reading month, for sure. :) I don't believe I've ever read Heidi, although there was a particular movie version that I loved as a child. I'll have to look it up. The Swiss Family Robinson is like that, also -- you go into it thinking it will be a lot lighter than it is.

    Thanks! I'm glad you enjoy my reviews. :)

    Anna and Serena,

    I've just written to say, "Yes, please," and sent my address. Thanks for the offer! I'm enjoying my Vietnam War reading much more than I anticipated.

    Gentle Reader,

    Thanks! It really was a terrific month - possibly a record-breaker for me, although I'm not certain.

    The Passage is so amazing that I didnt manage to set it aside until about 3:30, this morning. I'm determined to finish it, today. I won't be online much! My brain couldn't let go of the story and I continued mulling it in my dreams, after I finally got to sleep.

  11. Ohhh dearest Simon! I didn't realize Secret Lives had been re-released. I want the extra story, but I will always cherish my pretty little Turtle Point Press copy.

  12. Andi,

    I know! It's so special!! I spilled water on mine so it's kind of a wreck, but it's inscribed by Simon and that makes it extra special. There are some other "extras" besides the bonus story in the new HarperPerennial edition. You should at least flip through a copy, if you can get your mitts on one (and, you know, sneak to the corner of a book shop to read it). :)

    I will be forever grateful to you and Heather for introducing me to Simon via Estella, btw. Thank you, again, for that.

  13. I've heard great things about The Passage and will probably read it someday. I'm right there with you on the "chunkster" thing, though. That's why I decided to listen to World Without End, even though I own a hardcover copy.

    I'm reading La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith, but it isn't really pulling me in. I'll give it a few more pages...

    By the way, excellent month!

  14. Les,

    If you're as slow as I am, you have to really want to read a chunkster to get through it. It took me about 30 pages to get into The Passage and there have been a few slow moments, but it's just such a fascinating world that I haven't been tempted to set it aside -- except maybe once and I was just frustrated because it's taking so long.

    Listening to an audio is a great option if you can do it. I can't wear earphones (except the muffin kind and everyone always walks off with them!!!) because I'm hyperaccussive, which totally sucks. Although, as sick as I've been, I could probably just lie around and listen to a CD player, now.

    Thank you! I had a super month because I was such a lazy butt. LOL Hey, whatever works.

  15. Hi,

    I finished reading Robert Harris's The Ghost Writer and Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lately. Right now, I am reading Lee Child's 61 hours. I am also planning to finish The Girl who played with fire and The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest by the weekend.

    I really want to know your sincere opinion about my reading list, even though it might look a little primitive to you.

  16. Amar,

    I wouldn't call anyone's reading list "primitive". There's always a bit of personal taste involved and one must read to enjoy, right? Having said that, they all sound terrific. I've never read any of those authors, but all 3 are on my mental list of authors I'd like to try, someday. I hadn't heard anything about The Ghost and looked it up. That title sounds particularly interesting to me. I'm not into politics, but I've been curious about why there was such a shift away from supporting Tony Blair in his final years as British PM. Did you enjoy it?

  17. Hi,

    I really enjoyed The Ghost Writer. Instead of suspense, the main thing that shocked me was celebrated person's loneliness at the end of its life caused due to sudden realization of the treachery happened throughout its life.

    BTW I read your reason for not reading certain novels and I respect it.

  18. Amar,

    Sounds like the author was hopeful that Tony Blair will have regrets, at some point! Interesting.

    Thank you. We're an opinionated lot, we readers, but it's really quite fun finding out what people haven't read -- just as fascinating as what they have read, don't you think?


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