Monthly Archives: December 2016

2016 Wrap-up

Where did your reading take you this year?
I hung out in Britain a lot this year. I found a couple amazing authors (self-published). I entered Narnia (for the first time) and Oz (for the first time beyond The Wonderful Wizard). I went to ancient Greece. And I discovered Cozy Mysteries to be a lovely and fun mind vacation to go on on occasion.

How many books did you read and did you meet or beat your own personal goal?
I read 132 books. I don’t set specific goals anymore, really. Mostly just to read at least two books a week on average and I easily beat that. I’d love to reach an average of 3 books a week, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen. I beat my previous record of 126 books, but not page count.

What countries and time periods did you visit?
Mostly, Britain from Roman times through the Middle Ages. This was not planned. It just happened.

What were your most favorite stories? Any stories that stayed with you a long time, left you wanting more or needed to digest for a while before starting another? Which books became comfort reads?
My favorite stories were the young adult dystopian ones. I didn’t realize just how much I enjoy that genre.

The Breadwinner series stayed with me. They changed me, really. I am much more inclined to help people in any way I can. I’ve become determined that even though fixing everything is literally impossible, I can find the Starfish in need and help them. Spending time digesting that series really made me look for opportunities to help. Also, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I really have never even considered what it is like and the issues surrounding Native Americans living on reservations. I’m still mulling that one over, actually. I think both that book and the Breadwinner series have helped me to become a kinder, more compassionate person.

The Deltora Quest series became, or, really, already were comfort reads. I read them to my older children several years ago. I read them to myself 7 or 8 years ago. I read them to my little boys this year. Every time I return them, they are like visiting a friend I’ve missed, but didn’t quite realize I did.

What is the one book or the one author you thought you’d never read and found yourself pleasantly surprised that you liked it?
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I’ve heard lots of negative stuff about it so I have avoided it. It was a Kindle Deal of the Day so I decided for two bucks I could see what the fuss is about myself. The negativity really misses the point. Completely. I’m glad I read it.

Did you read any books that touched you and made you laugh, cry, sing or dance?
The Fifth Floor made me sad, but hopeful at the same time. It made me dance because the author was amazing and when a self-published author is that good, it’s like the angels are singing in the background while you read. All the Tony James Slater books I read made me laugh. A lot. Out loud. The Breadwinner series made me cry at various points.

Any that made you want to toss it across the room in disgust?
Coffee, Tea or Me made me want to toss it across the room for lack of the Oxford comma in the title. Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon and Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’ve Got Henchmen made me want to toss them across the room because they were so, so bad after the first book in the series, Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain, was so incredibly good.

Please share a favorite quote.
“A gal can cope with anything when her shoes match her bra.” ~A Trifle Dead

“She’s homeschooled because she can’t pass for human.” ~Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’ve Got Henchmen

“__________, __________, and __________ __________ __________! __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________. And before we knew it, we were on the plane home.” ~Can I Kiss Her Yet? (This is from the chapter about their honeymoon. Tony said he actually wrote words in those blanks and made it as incredibly boring as he possibly could.)

“She would have despised the modern idea of women being equal to men. Equal, indeed! she knew they were superior.” ~Cranford

“Still, Lex ran unopposed for city council and won every time.” ~The Last Bookstore in America

“Remember that misuse of language can lead to miscommunication and that miscommunication leads to everything that has ever happened in the whole of the world.” ~Welcome to Night Vale

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Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

Eleven-year-old orphan Pollyanna Whittier is dutifully taken in by her wealthy spinster aunt, Polly Harrington. Soon Pollyanna is changing the whole town with her sparkling personality and the glad game. When Pollyanna is injured and just can’t bring herself to be glad about anything, everyone rallies around her telling her why they are glad so she can share in their joy just as they’ve been sharing in hers.

I love Pollyanna. I’ve always related to her. Pollyanna is a lovely, happy book. Everything turns out just perfect in the end. I highly recommend it to people of all ages.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 132
Pages Read in 2016: 36,100
Hours Listened: 27 hours 2 minutes
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Classic, Realistic Fiction

Sign of the Green Dragon by C. Lee McKenzie

Eleven-year-old friends Sam, Roger, and Joey are exploring a cave when they stumble upon a skeleton and a chest with a picture of a dragon on the top and a note promising treasure if they can just solve a mystery. The boys take a bus to a small town where they meet Jen and his uncle Li Kwan, two men who live in a house built right into a mine. The more they find out about the author of the note, the more determined they become to solve the mystery and find the treasure.

Sign of the Green Dragon artfully blends Chinese culture, dragon lore, and the trail of clues to solve the over century old mystery. At times, particularly in the second quarter of the book, it dragged a bit and was occasionally confusing. The last half of the book was very exciting and my boys didn’t want me to stop reading to them when it was time to go to sleep. I definitely recommend Sign of the Green Dragon to kids and parents alike. It makes a very enjoyable family read aloud.

***I was provided this ebook by the author in exchange for an honest review.***

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 131
Pages Read in 2016: 35,773
Hours Listened: 27 hours 2 minutes
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Middle Grades

The Last Bookstore in America by Amy Stewart

When Lewis gets a call from a lawyer in Eureka, California, telling him his uncle died and he’s inherited The Firebreathing Dragon, one of the last few bookstores in America, he and his reluctant wife Emily are soon on their way to take over the store. They are surprised and excited to discover the bookstore brings in 1.2 million a year at a time when other bookstores are failing. Except The Firebreathing Dragon isn’t exactly just a bookstore.

The cognitive dissonance of reading a book on my Kindle and that book spending lots of time lamenting the end of paper books and trashing reading on the “Gizmo” (which sometimes sounds like an ereader and sometimes sounds like an app on the phone) is just weird. Pinning the downfall of bookstores (the author owns a bookstore) on “Nile.Com” which of course is pretty much Amazon is also weird. I think it was an attempt at humor, but it came across more as bitter. I also never could figure out if the author is pro- or anti-pot. Some parts of the book were funny and entertaining. The Last Bookstore In America is worth reading if you have some time to kill. You just might not want to read it on a Kindle because it might make your brain hurt.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 130
Pages Read in 2016: 35,692
Hours Listened: 27 hours 2 minutes
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Diane’s shape-shifting son Josh is curious about his father, Troy. Jackie, who is 19 because she never decided to turn 20, can’t get a paper that says King City out of her hand. When Josh runs away, Diane and Jackie set out for King City, but when you are coming from Night Vale that is much easier said than done and might require the use of some peculiar flamingos.

Welcome to Night Vale is a very strange book which is perfect because the Podcast is very strange, too. The story will be going along like a normal story and then a sentence will be inserted that makes you stop and have to re-read it or just laugh hysterically. The humor is amazing. Every few chapters a bit of a broadcast by Cecil appears. I highly recommend this book to all Welcome to Night Vale fans.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 129
Pages Read in 2016: 35,421
Hours Listened: 27 hours 2 minutes
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Humor

Coffee, Tea or Me by Rich Amooi

Jack is shocked and angry when Susie opens a tea shop right next door to his coffee shop. Soon, though, he gets to know her and is very happy she opened her shop. Everything is going great until Jack’s big mistake catches up with them.

Coffee, Tea or Me is a quick read that is predictable, yet fun. The title drives me a bit nuts with the lack of Oxford comma (I’m a big fan of the Oxford comma). I recommend this book to anyone wanting an easy mind vacation beach read.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 128
Pages Read in 2016: 35,020
Hours Listened: 27 hours 2 minutes
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

9-year-old Nicholas Benedict has a problem. He falls asleep when he gets emotional and sometimes sees an old hag in his sleep and wakes up screaming. Because of this, the director of his new orphanage makes him sleep locked in a faraway room. Nicholas, however, is incredibly clever so he quickly makes a key that allows him to get out of his room at night. He learns about a treasure believed to be hidden somewhere in his orphanage. He becomes determined to solve the mystery and find the treasure.

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is the prequel to the three Mysterious Benedict Society books. Instead of many puzzles to solve, there is one huge puzzle in this book. It is fun to try to solve it along with Nicholas. The story is engaging and though it is written for children, it is enjoyable for adults as well. My 8 and 10 year old sons loved it, as did I. I highly recommend this book to people of all ages, but read the other three Mysterious Benedict Society books first!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2016: 127
Pages Read in 2016: 34,809
Hours Listened: 27 hours 2 minutes
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Children