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2006 Reading Year in Review

>> Sunday, December 31, 2006

I had a few reading goals for 2006 and I’m pleased to say that I met them and more.

I wanted to read through two A to Z lists (by author and by title). I completed this by mid September and I’m very glad I did this.

I wanted to do more than just record the titles, dates read, and number of pages for my books. I started keeping a document of notes on all my books that in July became the beginnings of this blog. I hadn’t set out to start a book blog this year, but I’m very glad I did and have had a blast.

I managed to squeeze in just one more book today that I can count for 2006.

Totals for 2006
25 audiobooks
77 "3-D" books (28,880 pages)

Grand Total for 2006:
102 books :-)

My Top 5 books for the 2006 reading year are:

1. Hell at the Breech by Tom Franklin. It’s a brutal story, but so beautifully told.
2. One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash. Southern Literature at it’s best
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. If not for my fellow book bloggers I would not have picked up this amazing book. For some reason it’s hiding in the young adult section and should be up front in every bookstore with a big “YOU NEED TO READ THIS!!” sign on it.
4. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. A lost and only recently discovered novel set in occupied France during WWII. The story OF the book told in the appendices is as compelling as the story IN the book itself.
5. A multiple way tie between my favorite mystery/thriller series authors – Lee Child, Karin Slaughter, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Harlan Coben, and Jack Kerley.
6. (Because there’s no way I could limit myself to a top 5) Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. This is a true adventure story and it’s fabulous.

I also participated in my first book blogger’s reading challenge with the From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge. I’ve finished 7 books for this challenge and I want to thank Michelle for hosting this challenge and inspiring me to read some of those books that have been on the shelves for way too long.

I’ll be charging full speed into Reading Challenges tomorrow to kick off 2007. Les Miserables is such a huge book that I’m counting it for all 3 of my next challenges. Classics, Chunkster and TBR. My first challenge of 2007 will be to see if I can finish Les Miserables before the end of January.


Fire Ice by Clive Cussler

This is another modern swashbuckler of an adventure from Cussler and co-author Paul Kemprecos. It sticks with his formulaic plot format, but it’s still enjoyable. This one was from the Kurt Austin series which I actually enjoy more than the Dirk Pitt series. Fire Ice is about a misguided Russian madman who believes himself to be descended from the last Tsar of Russia. His plot to create tsunamis which will devastate the East coast of the United States and accelerate global warming are only part of the fun. Kurt Austin, Joe Zavala and the assorted marine techno geeks of NUMA manage to foil the plot, save the world and, of course, get the girl. It’s all in fun.

This was my seventh book and second one off my list of possible bonus books for the
The From the Stacks Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books. I managed to just get it done before the end of 2006. I'll be posting a Year End Summary later tonight or tomorrow.


Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

>> Friday, December 29, 2006

This is the sequel to Darkly Dreaming Dexter (which you really need to read first in order to understand Dexter’s background). Both my husband and I read and enjoyed the first Dexter book and I’m sure he’ll be reading this one soon. We don’t have Showtime, so we haven’t seen the TV Series based on the first book. Once it’s out on DVD, we’ll be renting it.

Dexter is a blood spatter expert for the Miami police department, he also happens to be a serial killer, but he only kills bad guys so as the blurb from the New Yorker in the front of the book says, he’s “one of the most likeable vigilante serial killers in recent thriller literature.” Dexter is definitely a unique hero. His dark humor just tickles my funny bone and his acknowledgement that he is something less than fully human is actually heartwarming. His efforts to pretend to fit in with his family (now just his police officer adopted sister), girlfriend (really just for show), and his co-workers at the police department are something he learned he had to do from his amazing adopted father who was a cop.

In this adventure, Dexter’s nemesis, Sergeant Doakes, continues to be suspicious of him. Dexter has to ramp up his appearances of normalcy at the same time he is helping his sister investigate a gruesome case. It all gets twisted up together and is a fun read that has me looking forward to the next book in the series.

This was my sixth book and first one off my list of possible bonus books for the The From the Stacks Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books.


Til Morning Light by Ann Moore

>> Saturday, December 23, 2006

This is the third book in a Trilogy that started with Gracelin O’Malley and continued in Leaving Ireland. This series leans more toward historic fiction than historic romance and that’s probably why I’ve enjoyed this series. The heroine and her children have continued their travels and are now in San Francisco in 1852. There is much continuation of story lines that began in the first two books as well as some new intrigue and a few surprises along the way. Grace is a sympathetic heroine who continues to use her intelligence, humor and compassion to make a life for herself and her family and others no matter where she lands.

This has been an enjoyable series with a large and varied cast of characters who keep the story from getting bogged down into a simple “plucky woman makes good” story. It’s far more than that and I’ll be on the lookout for more books by Ann Moore.

This was my fifth book for the
The From the Stacks Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books. Since I have some time before the next challenges start in January, I'll be able to move on to one from my 'extras if I have time' list.


Audiobook – Miss Julia Meets Her Match by Ann B. Ross

>> Wednesday, December 20, 2006

This is the 5th book in the gently humorous comedy of manners that is the Miss Julia series. Claudia Hughes reads this series and does a great job with the voices.

From Booklist:

What do you do if you're a genteel, well-to-do widow on the far side of 70 who discovers her late husband had a mistress and a young son? If you're Miss Julia, you swallow your pride and take Hazel Marie and Little Lloyd into your home. That was four books ago. Now, in her latest outing, Miss Julia hears a rumor that another one of her husband's paramours is in town. She'd like to keep this quiet, and fortunately the people of Abbotsville have plenty else to gossip about. There's the transformation of Tony Allen into Tonya, and church secretary Norma's relationship with Mayor Beebe, and the construction of the dubious Walk Where Jesus Walked theme park outside of town. To Miss Julia's chagrin, there's also talk about her friendship with Sam, who
keeps pressing her to marry him. A fun read for Miss Julia fans.

I'll keep the rest of this series on my Books to put on the ipod list.


Wicked by Gregory Maguire

>> Thursday, December 14, 2006

This is my fourth book for the From the Stacks Winter reading challenge. This one has definitely been on my shelf for a while. I know a lot of people who have loved it and a few who didn’t. Maybe that’s why it’s been sitting there not demanding me to pick it up and read it sooner. I really wanted to love this book, but I ended up deciding it was interesting enough, but not something I would be compelled to recommend.

The idea of the back story to The Wicked Witch of the West and other characters from The Wizard of Oz was intriguing to me, but the book just never really grabbed me and made me reluctant to put it down. The story is about Elphaba (Later the Wicked Witch of the West), born green in Munchkinland. The first part of the book tells a bit of her childhood and more about the status of politics and religion in Oz. We next catch up with Elphaba at college where she meets and rooms with Galinda (who becomes Glinda the Good Witch). Elphaba’s sister joins them at school later. Elphaba is independent, intelligent and involved in Animal Rights and social activism. Unfortunately throughout the book I never really got involved along with her. The final section of the book, which takes place after Dorothy lands in Oz was probably the most interesting part, but I just didn’t enjoy all of the journey to get there.


Big Sister's Doll Afghan

>> Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yarn - Red Heart TLC Baby
Color - Powder Lilac

This is a doll sized blanket that is going to the Big Sister of the baby boy who got the previous blanket. After all, it's no fun when the new guy in town is getting all the new stuff.


Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

>> Friday, December 8, 2006

I originally bought this book for my husband, knowing that I wanted to read it anyway, but I’d let him have first shot. My brother served in the Submarine Service for 20+ years, so I’ve always been fascinated with stories about submarines. Now that my brother has retired, I can handle reading stories about sunken submarines. This is the story of a sunken German U-boat that was discovered off of New Jersey in 1991. The drama of the deep wreck divers who found and explored the submarine is only part of the story. The other part is about their efforts to identify the submarine, which took 6 years worth of research and diving and cost the lives of 3 men. There was no record of a U-boat sinking within 150 miles of the location, and no readily accessible identifying marks on the wreck. This was a real page turner with plenty of drama and adventure. Deep wreck diving is a deadly hobby and this book pulls no punches on that topic. Some of the descriptions of what divers experience while deep underwater were truly frightening. The story of the two men who became friends while seeking to find out about the sub and its sailors is fascinating. This was an exciting and interesting read.

This was my third book for the From The Stacks Winter reading challenge.


Audiobook – Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled

>> Monday, December 4, 2006

I’m kind of glad that this is the last of the Mrs. Pollifax books. It was a bit of a letdown. The others have all been entertaining and cute and fun to listen to for commuter books, but this one just didn’t have it. I really think the only reason I went ahead and finished it was that Barbara Rosenblat did the reading and I could listen to her read the dictionary and be entertained.


Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston

>> Saturday, December 2, 2006

This is a fictionalized account of the Donner Party story. It’s told from two viewpoints. The first is in the present tense and tells the story of James Frazier Reed. He was one of the initial leaders of the party who ended up riding ahead without his family and reaching the other side of the Sierra Nevada ahead of the snows that trapped the rest of the group. Intermixed with his story are excerpts from the memoirs that his daughter Patty wrote in the 1920’s (remember this is fictionalized). These “Trail Notes of Patty Reed” are the recollections of an 80 year old woman of happened to her at age 8 as she remained with the rest of the emigrants. The tense difference is an interesting technique. The present tense of Jim Reed’s story has the sense of unknown and uncertainty as he is on the other side of the mountains wondering where his family is and if they are even safe as he tries to mount a rescue attempt. The ‘Trail Notes’ from an elderly Patty has the hindsight and knowledge that she didn’t have at eight as she was experiencing these events. I really wanted to love this book, but parts of it (particularly the Jim Reed portions) I frankly skimmed. The technique of using present tense to give a little bit of urgency to his story was hampered by the language and leisurely descriptions. Although the language and descriptions provided great images, they seemed to drag down his view of the story and make it seem almost like he was taking his time. The middle section in particular as he gets caught up in the battle between Mexico and the Americans for control of the California Territory seems to be an interruption in the ‘real’ story that I was expecting out of this book. Yes, this is important because it explains why there was the delay in mounting any sort of rescue attempt, and it explains how Jim Reed made the acquaintance of influential people, but it seemed too drawn out and colorless. Patty’s story as told by an 80 year old woman looking back was far more engaging. The first and third sections of the book were interesting, but the extensive interlude in the middle section made this just an OK book.

This was my second book for the From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge. On to #3.


2007 TBR Challenge Book List

>> Friday, December 1, 2006

For this challenge you should....
** Pick 12 books - one for each month of 2007 - that you've been wanting to read (have been on your "To Be Read" list) for 6 months or longer, but haven't gotten around to.

** Then, starting January 1, 2007, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31, 2007. :o)

We’ve been asked to post our list of books for this challenge by December 31, 2006. I spent some time browsing the list and although I’m overlapping a couple of books at the beginning with the Classics and Chunkster challenges, the rest of the list is (at this point anyway) independent of other challenges.
1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
2. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
3. Aunt Dimity and the Duke by Nancy Atherton
4. Total Control by David Baldacci
5. Isle of Palms by Dorothea Benton Frank
6. Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles
7. Traveling Mercies by Annie Lamott
8. The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch by Marsha Moyer
9. A Piece of Heaven by Barbara Samuel
10. Red by Erica Spindler
11. Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson
12. Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalain


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