Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010

The last day of the last month of 2010, a day of reflection.

I spent hours today visiting various blogs and jotting down book titles that appear on "best of" or "top [insert number here]" reads of 2010.  Then I looked at my list, and all in all, felt pretty good about my Year in Reading--the 2010 version.  While I didn't blog on each and every book, I managed to finish 75 books this year, an all-time high number for me.  Of course, reaching that number is far easier when that pesky little thing called a 9-5 job doesn't interfere (probably the only plus of being unemployed).  Lack of that "little thing" allowed me to become much more familiar with my local public library, and that reacquaintance was one of the highlights of the year.  Inter-Library loan rocks!

Favorite reads of the year include The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, The Search by Norah Roberts, A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, and How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neal.  The biggest surprise of the year was finally reading--and liking!--Naked in Death by J.D. Robb, first in her In Death series.  With 32 waiting in the queue, catching up on this series and the uber-couple, Eve and Roarke, will be fun!

The year in numbers:
Total Books:  75

13 Non-Fiction
16 Romance
19 Mystery
27 Fiction

 6  Mt. TBR
32 New
37 Library

 5  Trade Paperback
 8  Mass Market Paperback
14 Kindle
48 Hardcover

Total Pages:  23,978

Looking ahead to 2011, my library request list already has sixteen books listed including Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt, Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland, and Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  Heading into the new year, my reading resolution, as always, is to read whatever I want whenever I want with no apologies for my selections.  Added to that this year will be the resolution to spend more time reading and less time writing about what I read.  To that end, I'll post a monthly reading summary here at Owlsfeathers and perhaps a separate post now and then on a book that particularly captures my reading fancy or on an event of note.  (And, of course, any post-worthy pictures of the extended family of dogs and cats.)  My booknotes will also be updated at Shelfari as well as at Goodreads.

Wishing everyone health, happiness, and unending pages of reading joy in 2011.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What I've Been Reading

I've come to the decision that while I want to keep my reading history current here at Owl's Feathers, not every book merits a unique posting.  Going forward, I'll post these cumulative updates and, every now and then, post on a book that has been an especially rewarding reading experience.  So, here's what's been keeping me reading lately...

MAYBE THIS TIME by Jennifer Crusie
3.5/5 (Fiction Scale)
Hero and heroine were vintage Crusie.  Just enough of a woo-woo element to be interesting and not put the book into the fantasy category.  All in all, a good afternoon's read.

PAINTED LADIES by Robert B. Parker
4.5/5 (Mystery Scale)
Reading Painted Ladies after a long stretch of no Spenser/Robert B. Parker reminded me how much I love Parker's writing style.  Or, perhaps more specifically, how much I love Parker's writing Spenser and Susan Silverman.  In interviews upon the release of Painted Ladies, Joan Parker indicated that there is still one more Spenser to be published next year.  So we readers get to stay the inevitable last Spenser just a little while longer.

LEGACY by Danielle Steel
3/5 (Fiction Scale)
You know what you are getting when you open a Danielle Steel novel to page 1.  Sometimes, the reading experience is exactly what you need at the time.  This time, however, the details fell in place a little too obviously and tidy.  Not sure why I keep reading her books--maybe just the comfort of the known.

INFAMOUS by Suzanne Brockman
3.5/5 (Romance Scale)
This was the November selection for the local Barnes & Noble Romance Readers group.  Take one legendary U.S Marshal and an historic shootout in a saloon and mix well with a wronged descendant (our hero), a historian (our heroine), then toss in a ghost who knows the story behind the story, read 'til done, and you have Infamous.  Some obvious social opinion preaching from the author; otherwise, a fun read.

THE HEALER by Carol Cassella
3.5/5 (Fiction Scale)
Healer tells the story of Claire and Addison Boehning and their daughter Jory and what happens when their lives fall apart around them--how each of them adjusts to the new financial reality facing them, but better still, how each of them opens up to new opportunities.  A short, quick read that takes you into the core of this family in transition.

BUSY BODY by M.C. Beaton
3.5/5 (Mystery Scale)
Another visit with Agatha Raisin and her detective crew--a visit much more rewarding than the last (There Goes the Bride).  And, what's this?  Agatha pondering a la Stephanie?  Camp James or Camp Charles?

STILTSVILLE by Susanna Daniel
4/5 (Fiction Scale)
This is a book where nothing happens and everything happens.  It is the simple, complex story of Frances Ellerby and Dennis DuVal, their marriage, their families, their friends, the lives--all set against the vividly written background of Miami, South Florida, and Biscayne Bay.  My favorite passage from the book:  This is what it means to be part of a family.  There are no maps and the territory is continually changing.  We are explorers, traveling in groups.  And how's this for a word picture:  She'd done more packing after getting home: there was a row of three suitcases just inside the room, facing the door like eager dogs waiting for it to open.  Les of Lesley's Book Nook has written a wonderful review of StiltsvilleClick here to enjoy her review.

3.5/5 (Non-fiction Scale)
I can't help myself.  As soon as I hear about a new dog or "amazing" animal book, it immediately goes on my library reserve list.  And I know I will have to read it with a box of tissues handy because no matter how upbeat and happy the owner and [insert animal name here] are, there always is that inevitable sadness.  But, as in most animal books, when things are good in You Had Me at Woof, they are very, very good.  If you've been around dogs at all, you'll laugh and giggle your way through Ms. Klam's experiences with her not always well-behaved pack.

4/5 (Fiction Scale)
Another family in transition spun into motion by a sad man.  A large Italian family ("the Sopranos without the guns"), a small Indian family, assorted relatives and friends, and best of all a home and barn filled with an ever-changing assortment of animals--each bringing special blessings.  A favorite character for me was Muriel, the goat.

4/5 (Fiction Scale)
Well, bless her heart.  Maggie Fortenberry has the weight of her world on her shoulders and is contemplating very drastic action to alleviate that weight.  Then there's the pressure of being a former Miss Alabama--the crown and that sash, you know.  Oh, and don't forget the other characters:  Brenda Peoples, Maggie's best friend; Hazel Whisenknott, founder of Red Mountain Realty (who died five years before the story begins); and Ethel Clipp, Red Mountain realty's purple-haired, of-a-certain-age office manager.  Why did I like this book?  Because, like watching It's a Wonderful Life every year, it just felt good.

DAYS OF GOLD by Jude Deveraux
3/5 (Romance Scale)
This was the December selection for the local Barnes & Noble Romance Readers. Days of Gold, Book 2 in Jude Deveraux's Edilean Series, takes us to Scotland 1766 where we meet the ancestors and founders of Edilean, VA, featured in the contemporary romance, Lavender Morning. The story of Angus McTern and Edilean Talbot is told with a humor that easily carries you through the many pages where the lovers at first sight waste so much time saying, "I hate you" countered with "I hate you more."  Convenient and somewhat obvious plot devices lead us to the inevitable happily ever after ending.

3/5 (Non-fiction Scale)
Not as good for me as I Feel Bad About My Neck…maybe because of the "inside baseball" presentation of some of the essays. However, the more general essays hit the mark--especially the closing lists of "What I Won't Miss" and "What I Will Miss" or "Twenty-five Things People Have a Shocking Capacity to Be Surprised by Over and Over Again" (e.g., 16. Mary Matalin and James Carville are married). This passage sums up my current state of mind: I have been forgetting things for years, but now I forget in a new way. I used to believe I could eventually retrieve whatever was lost and the commit it to memory. Now I know I can't possibly. Whatever's gone is hopelessly gone. And what's new doesn't stick.