2011 Books Read

Better late than never. Remember how I used to blog and make OCD-worthy lists and collages of all I’d read? I still make lists, but collages these days, while never extinct, are few and far between.

2011 was a slim yet memorable reading year. I discovered Lisa Kleypas and dedicated the entire spring to reading her backlists. And new author crush: Stephanie Perkins! I plan to write an entire blog post on how much I swooned during the reading of Lola and the Boy Next Door.

The Wild Rose, the  final installment of Jennifer Donnelly’s Rose Trilogy came out in August covered in awesome sauce. There were Lawrence of Arabia and motorcar chases, dude.

In between, there were many ‘Did Not Finished’ books. I’m a notorious abandon-er of books (known to abandon on the last few pages!), so I don’t count something as ‘Read’ unless I read or liberally skimmed every. single. word.

Oh, and I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond again. It’s a sickness. This is re-read #12.

Jan. 2011
Room by Emma Donoghue

Feb 2011
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (re-read)
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (re-read)

March 2011
Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Re-read).
Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas

April 2011
Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas
After the Night by Linda Howard
Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas

May 2011
Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Seduce Me At Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas
Tempt Me At Twilight by Lisa Kleypas
Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas

June 2009
Intensity by Dean Koontz
The Lost City of Z by David Grann (liberal skimming)

July 2011
A Shore Thing by Snooki
Jane by April Lindner

August 2011
The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (liberal skimming)

September 2011
Fury by Elizabeth Miles

October 2011
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur
If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Dec 2011
Legend by Marie Lu

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Playing Catch-Up 2009

Before and during my MIA stint, I’ve been reading…instead of blogging. I’ve got one word to sum up my feelings about this: Crap. A sinking crappy feeling. My poor neglected blog. My abysmal readership. My stats! My plummeting, nose-diving stats!

Below, you’ll find the list of books I’ve read thus far. How many have I blogged about? Zero. Resolution: Blog about all of them in wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am format.

Look forward to my Hit and Run Review.

Books Read 2009

Jan 2009

1. The Ghost Writer—John Harewood

2. The Little Prince—Antoine De Saint-Exuprey

3. Fingersmith—Sarah Waters

4. No Plot? No Problem!—Chris Baty

5. Stein on Writing—Sol Stein

6. 20 Master Plots—Ronald Tobias

7. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt—Nick Hornby

Feb 2009

1. Here on Earth—Alice Hoffman

2. Silk—Alessandro Barcio

3. How I Write—Janet Evanovich

4. Nefertiti—Michelle Moran

5. Aquamarine—Alice Hoffman

6. Indigo—Alice Hoffman

March 2009

1. Garden Spells—Sarah Addison Allen

2. Incantation—Alice Hoffman

3. Holidays on Ice (Santaland Diaries)—David Sedaris

4. The Heretic Queen—Michelle Moran

5. The Sugar Queen—Sarah Addison Allen

6. Tipping the Velvet—Sarah Waters

7. The Hunger Games—Suzanne Collins

April 2009

1. Graceling—Kristin Cashore

2. Paper Towns—John Green

3. What I Saw and How I Lied—Judy Bundell

4. Danse Macabre—Stephen King

TBR Galore

Why do I persist in adding more books to my TBR list when I cannot possibly handle the load? Likewise, why do I persist in checking out stack upon stack of books at the library when I’ve already got a monster pile threatening to topple over at home? It’s a sickness I tell you! I’m a greedy little book hoarder.

Here is this year’s TBR list. The notebook paper I keep it on is about to disintegrate so in the interest of good housekeeping, I’m transcribing it here.

Lets see if I made much of a dent:

Crossed out: Finished

Italics: Abandoned (not necessarily abandoned forever) or ‘put down to read at another time.’

TBR 2008

  1. Out of Africa—Isak Dinesen
  2. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow—Washington Irving
  3. Wide Sargasso Sea—Jean Rhys
  4. Captain Blood–Rafael Sabatini
  5. Travels with Charlie in Search of America—John Steinbeck
  6. Seven Gothic Tales—Isak Dinesen
  7. Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire—Amanda Foreman
  8. Charlotte Sometimes—Penelope Farmer
  9. A Little Princess—Frances Hodgson Burnett
  10. The Little Prince—Antoine Saint-Exupery
  11. Lock and Key—Sarah Dessen
  12. Ten Cents a Dance—Christine Fletcher
  13. The Host—Stephenie Meyer
  14. Breaking Dawn–Stephenie Meyer
  15. Bird by Bird—Anne Lamott
  16. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks —E. Lockhart
  17. Saving Juliet—Suzanne Selfors
  18. The Luxe—Anna Godbersen
  19. Life As We Knew It—Susan Beth Pfeffer
  20. Fearless Fourteen—Janet Evanovich
  21. The Somnambulist—Jonathan Barnes
  22. The Pillars of the Earth–Ken Follet
  23. The Time Traveler’s Wife–Audrey Niffenegger
  24. The Winter Rose—Jennifer Donnelly
  25. PS, I Love You—Cecelia Ahern
  26. Doubt—John Patrick Shanley
  27. American Gods—Neil Gaiman
  28. Neverwhere—Neil Gaiman
  29. Smoke and Mirrors—Neil Gaiman
  30. Sovay–Celia Rees
  31. Beastly–Alex Finn
  32. Thirteen Reasons Why—Jay Asher
  33. How I live Now—Meg Rosoff
  34. Girl, 13–Starla Griffin
  35. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos–R.L. La Fevers
  36. Sloppy Firsts—Megan McCafferty
  37. The Virgin Suicides—Jeff Eugenedies
  38. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies! —Laura Amy Schlitz
  39. Inkheart—Cornelia Funke
  40. Henry V—William Shakespeare
  41. Paper Moon—Joe David Brown
  42. The Witchcraft of Salem Villiage—Shirley Jackson
  43. The Bloody Chamber–Anglea Carter
  44. Matilda–Roalh Dalh
  45. The Witches–Roalh Dalh
  46. The Twits–Roalh Dalh
  47. Click 8–Nick Hornby
  48. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt–Nick Hornby
  49. Angela’s Ashes—Frank McCourt
  50. Watchman–Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
  51. Rumors–Anna Godberson
  52. The Tea Rose–Jennifer Donnelly
  53. Forever Amber—Kathleen Winsor
  54. A Woman of Substance—Barbara Taylor Bradford
  55. The House of Riverton—Kate Morton
  56. Dead until Dark—Charlene Harris
  57. Sin in the Second City: Madamns, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul—Karen Abbott
  58. Seasons of Passage—Christopher Pike
  59. The Ruby in the Smoke—Philip Pullman
  60. Out–Natsuo Kirino
  61. The Outlaws of Sherwood—Robin McKinley
  62. Beauty—Robin McKinley
  63. Paper Towns—John Green
  64. Rapunzel’s Revenge—Shannon Hale
  65. Chains—Laurie Halse Anderson
  66. The Hunger Games–Suzanne Collins
  67. The Graveyard Book–Neil Gaiman
  68. The Explosionist—Jenny Davidson
  69. Dracula–Bram Stoker
  70. The Minister’s Daughter—Julie Hern
  71. Nefertiti—Michelle Moran
  72. Mystic River–Dennis Lehane
  73. Shutter Island—Dennis Lehane
  74. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—John Berendt
  75. Dandelion Wine—Ray Bradbury
  76. The Martian Chronicles—Ray Bradbury
  77. About a Boy–Nick Hornby
  78. Strangers on a Train–Patricia Highsmith
  79. The Talented Mr. Ripley—Patricia Highsmith
  80. The Thin Man–Raymond Chandler
  81. What I Saw and How I Lied–Judy Blundell
  82. Peeled–Joan Bauer
  83. Fingersmith–Sarah Waters
  84. Asylum–Patrick Mcgrath
  85. The Pale Blue Eyes (P.S.) —Louis Bayard
  86. The Ghost Writer–John Harwood
  87. Five Mile House–Karen Novak
  88. The Haunting of Hill House—Shirley Jackson
  89. Dragonwyck–Anya Sexton
  90. The Thorn Birds—Colleen McCullough

Outlander: Breaking the Romance Mold

Much has been said of Diana Gabaldon’s controversial twist on the traditional romance novel formula. For those of you who have never had the inclination to read a romance novel, you’ll be curious to know that the formula goes something like this:

  • The hero is usually in his thirties. Why? A man in his thirties is more mature and financially stable.
  • The heroine, preferably a virginal one, is always younger than the hero. She ballparks around 18-23, and is most inexperienced in the ways of love…
  • Which allows the hero (that rakish rascal), to teach her how to make love…
  • While she, in turn, teaches him how to feel… so much so that he will never look at another woman again.
  • Meanwhile, there are other complications with the plot…
    • An inconvenient fiancée.
    • A case of mistaken identity.
    • An abduction.
    • A diabolical villain.
    • A misunderstanding that could have been cleared up if someone just said something.

When all these complications are cleared up, a marriage takes place.
Then along came D. Gabaldon who turned the genre upside down with:

  • A heroine who is older and more experienced than the virginal hero.
  • A romance that takes place after the marriage, thereby proving that there is life after marriage!
  • An abduction, true, but this time it’s the hero who gets abducted and brutally raped… er…made love to by the villain.
  • A villain who is such a badass that you can almost forgive his little “indiscretion.”
  • And the most interesting dialogue this side of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.

“Jamie and Claire”

The Outlander YouTube movies are increasing in number and getting better by the minute. A few months ago, these fan videos were primarily casting oriented, but now, they’re branching out into storytelling territory. With that said, I would like to introduce a new Outlander video entitled “Jamie and Claire” that deserves honorable mention in telling the story all the way to the end of Dragonfly in Amber. There is, however, an anachronistically modern picture of Claire (casted as Anna Friel) that raised my eyebrow just an inch north of doubtful before I was quickly won over by the music (“Bonny Portmoreby Loreena McKennitt) and creative subtitles.

Men of the Mist

It it a truth universally acknowledged that if you’re going to have crush on a dashing fictional hero, you might as well go the extra step and provide him with his own atmospheric mist. My earliest memory of being able to see man-mist occurred on my first reading of The Witch of Blackbird Pond. The sardonic young seaman, Nathaniel Eaton, makes an appearance from out of the mist of the Connecticut River in order to come to Kit Tyler’s rescue. From that point on, the mist never receded from his general vicinity.

Nor did the mist leave Sydney Carton’s side as he took his final stroll along the cobblestone sidewalk under Lucie Manette’s window. Likewise, if Outlander were ever to be made into a movie, Jamie Fraser would have his own fog and wind machine. He must have wind blowing through his flaming red hair at all times! None of this sissy mist, I demand a gale for this God among men!

And last but not least, Mr. Darcy came out of the mist… in slow motion. And yes, there was a faint breeze tousling his Regency era sideburns ever so gently askew…

Of course, this was all in my imagination. Never did it cross my mind that others were thinking the same thing. Until one day, in a smoky theater in Westwood Village, I feasted my eyes upon this image and nearly fell out of my seat from sheer exhilaration.

All around me, there was a collective intake of breath from the female audience as Mr. Darcy, played by Matthew Macfayden, came out of the mist, his morning-walking coat billowing behind him as he approached Elizabeth Bennet in, dare I say it, slow motion. What a thrill to see the image that has been ruminating in my mind realized before my eyes. And then, after this scene, the theater erupted into a collective sigh.

The male audience, however, were not amused.

Tea with the Queen

In my earlier synopsis of Sweet Valley High: Beware the Wolfman, it slipped my mind to mention one other important plot element. How could I have been so careless!

While the Wolfman romances Jessica Wakefield, Elizabeth Wakefield, the scholastically unblemished twin, manages to arrange tea with Queen Elizabeth. Imagine that! I didn’t know the Queen was so accessible to her subjects let alone to a Southern Californian teen. Here in America, if any of us lowly plebeians try to hop the fence over to the White House, we’d get shot down by snipers. And they call this a democracy…

But Elizabeth Wakefield obtains a press pass to Buckingham Palace and interviews the Queen over those little cucumber sandwiches. Seems like the Wakefields of Sweet Valley are movin’ on up in the world. Let this be a lesson in determination for all you young folks out there: if you try hard enough, maybe you can also interview the British Monarchy for your high school newspaper. I don’t know about you, but I for one am inspired. Like Elizabeth Wakefield, I too am an average Southern Californian resident. Do you think Her Majesty will give me an extra lump of sugar in my English Breakfast if I present her with the best Roxy T-shirt PacSun has to offer?