Winter Reading List 2011

Cinder: Book One in the Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer was awesome!!  It was really well written, and a dark yet refreshing take on the classic Cinderella tale.  What a great idea!  My hubby actually found this book. It was recommended by one of the Sci-Fi authors he follows.  My husband and I both devoured this one (a rarity, I can assure you) as well as my mom.  Two thumbs up! Can’t wait for the next one.

Legend, by Marie Lu was also very good.  According to my mom, and I would agree, not as well written as Cinder, and definitely in the YA category, but I would recommend it.  It was fast-paced if a  little predictable.  It is also a dystopian tale (as so many YA books seem to be) that can be quite dark.  I found it a very fast, satisfying read that I could easily recommend.

Wonder, by R. J. Palacio was a wonderful surprise (pun intended, I suppose!).  I would put it in the same category as OK For Now, which I also loved and reviewed earlier in this blog.  It’s a heart wrenching story of a 5th grader who is dramatically physically deformed, and enters school for the first time.  5th graders are brutal under any circumstance, and they don’t pull punches in this story, but neither do some of the adults.  It makes you really appreciate what you have, and value the importance of empathy and kindness.  Caitlin you need to read this book when you are able!

The Future of Us, by Jay Asher was interesting and I really enjoyed this novel. I think I found this one on EW.  Imagine you were in high school in 1998 and when you logged into your first AOL account, you hit your first webpage, and your Facebook profile  (from 2012) came up.  What if every time you changed a decision in the present it caused changes to appear on your profile? What changes would you try to make?  The lesson here – live in the present! I enjoyed this book a lot. Great summer read, especially for those of us that lived through high school in the 90’s, and started using FB in our late 20’s early 30’s.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morganstern was a magical read.  I wasn’t quite sure I was going to like this one but got swept up in the descriptive world Morganstern creates.  You can almost feel the crisp night air, sweet with the smell of cinnamon buns and candied corn. It’s a story where true “magic” exists, one studied, one innate, and a battle between the two that results in a star crossed love story.  I thought it was a beautiful novel that I would definitely recommend to my female friends.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor was another EW find.  It’s probably a YA book, which I am guilty of reading too many of!  It’s the story of Karou, raised by Chimera, the sworn enemy of angels. Yes you read correctly – angles as in human-like creatures with wings.  Accept they aren’t necessarily “good”, as the Chimera aren’t necessarily “bad”.  At the end of the day, this is a Romeo and Juliet story, set in a world where make believe creatures are real.  I enjoyed it, and would recommend it, and will certainly read the sequel.

Wildflower Hill, by Kimberly Freeman was a beautiful novel that spanned multiple generations.  At the core, it’s a tragic love story, the story of doing whatever it takes to take care of your child, fighting for what you believe in even when society is hostile and hateful.  I found myself rooting for the characters, wanting them to find happiness and salvation, and themselves.  For some reason, this book reminds me a bit of something Maeve Binchy might have written.  I suspect if you like those novels, you will enjoy this one.

Before I Go to Sleep, by S.J. Watson was a creepy mystery that I couldn’t put down.  Imagine waking up every morning not remembering who you were, rebuilding memories that day, only to forget them the following day.  What if you kept a diary at the end of each day, and you open it one morning and the entry from the day before says, “Don’t trust Ben.”  Ben is the protagonist’s, husband.  Creepy!  I was addicted to this book until the end.

Dog on It, by Spencer Quinn was hilarious!!  Anyone who has a dog, or loves dogs, this is a MUST read.  Chet is the wise and lovable canine narrator of Dog on It, who works alongside Bernie, a down-on-his-luck private investigator. Chet might have flunked out of police school (“I’d been the best leaper in K-9 class, which had led to all the trouble in a way I couldn’t remember exactly, although blood was involved”), but he’s a detective through and through.  I laughed and cried my way through this book.  If you liked The Art of Racing in the Rain I suspect you will like this one.

Once Upon a River, by Bonnie Jo Campbell is compared to Huck Finn, but with a female protagonist, Margo Crane.  I didn’t love this book, but I thought it was good.  In short, it’s the story of a poor family that lives on a fictional river in MI.  Margo’s father is murdered, and she sets off to live on the river in search of her mother.   A lot can go wrong when a pretty teenage girl lives alone on a river.  I had trouble relating the Margo, and the choices she made.  Somehow the characters felt a little distant to me.  It’s still a good book but wasn’t a page-turner for me.