Book Reviews by Today, I Read…

A Continuous Book Review and Vocabulary Assignment

December 31

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2010 In Review: The 9 Books I’m Glad I Read This Year

by Ann-Katrina

Last year I selected 9 books I was glad I read and decided to make it an annual feature. This year is was difficult to select only 9, so I ended up cheating a little—rather than list each book in two series which I loved I listed only the first book, but assume I liked the whole series.

Books I Wish I Read As a Kid

  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt: It makes me wonder how my views about immortality would have varied between childhood and adulthood.
  • Siberia by Ann Halam: I could read Stephen King and not get frightened, but this book…I’ll admit that this book would have scared younger me. There’s a realness that would have warped my young mind.

Series Which Held Me In Thrall

  • Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi: This graphic novel series was just pure fun. Well illustrated, beautifully colored, entertaining story, and good editing make this an exemplary series.
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Words still fail me. This series left me wounded and raw.

Books That Lingered

  • Still Missing by Chevy Stevens: Every so often I’ll think about this book and Annie and her ordeal and I’ll wonder if a book will come along that will grip me as tightly as this one has.
  • Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh: I don’t care what anyone else says, Mr. Ken Kimble was an opportunistic sociopath. But every cloud does have a silver lining even if it’s not readily apparent.
  • Broken by Karin Fossum: I don’t understand why this was pegged as a mystery, but it’s an excellent character (and philosophical) study.

Odd Books Out

  • The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Duncle: The first book in a very long time that scared me. A good old fashioned scare, one that made me double check my doors and windows.
  • The Clearing by Heather Davis: This book restored my faith in good old fashioned romance.

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January 1

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2009 Year In Review, or The Nine Books I’m Glad I Read

by Ann-Katrina

As I look back at the books I read in 2009, I’m lost in a swirl of emotions—mostly good, but some less so. There were many books I loved, but only a few made the top of my “books I’m glad I read” list. (I tried to narrow it down to five, but it just wasn’t working for me.)

Island of the Blue DolphinsThe Last UnicornThe Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeWuthering HeightsWuthering HeightsThe Lightning ThiefThe Man Who Loved Books Too MuchThe Miles Between

Revisiting Childhood

  • Island of the Blue Dolphin by Scott O’Dell: This was a book I read as a child and has great sentimental value to me. Reading it again was like traveling back in time.
  • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle: The movie was something I loved and learning that there was a book left me breathless. I only wish I could have continued the journey. (review)
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes: All I will say about this is I cried again.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis: Ah, the memories. This book was the inspiration for my magical closet under the stairs which would transport me to my own little world.

Books I Should Have Read Sooner, But Didn’t

  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen: It’s amazing how much presumption can cloud one’s judgment. This book made me want to fall in love. (book notes)
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte: Where to begin? This book was a wild ride. Especially when you consider that everyone was bat**** crazy. Corrupted love spanning generations…what could be better? (teaser, sunday sketch)
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan: This book was pure unadulterated fun to read. Somehow everything just clicked—the emotions, the adventure, the humor.

Books That Stayed With Me

  • The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett: The lengths to which someone would go for love of a good book. Read more like a novelized memoir of Hoover discovering the world of book antiquities rather than the memoir of a man who loved books too much.
  • The Miles Between by Mary Pearson: A book must connect with me on a deep level to draw tears. This book did just that…and it made me cackle in the same breath. A sweet fairytale that deals with a tough subject. (sunday sketch)

There’s still quite a few books that I’ve yet to review, but would like to. That will probably take up most of the early weeks. And although I’m a little sad to see 2009 go, I look forward to discovering some wonderful titles in 2010.

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December 31

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2008 in Books, or the Ten Books I’m Glad I Read This Year

by Ann-Katrina

This has been the year where I’ve truly gotten back into the spirit of reading, albeit somewhat late in the year (August), and this short list outlines the top ten books I’m glad I read this year, whether for its emotional impact or its entertainment value. (And choosing only ten was not easy.)

The list is in no particular order and a complete list of the books I’ve read this year also follows.

Sky Burial Cover The Sky Burial by Xinran Xue (review)

As a young girl in China Xinran heard a rumour about a soldier in Tibet who had been brutally fed to the vultures in a ritural known as a sky burial: the tale frightened and fascinated her. Several decades later Xinran met Shu Wen, a Chinese woman who had spent years searching for her missing husband Kejun, after he disappeared in Tibet; her extraordinary life story would unravel the legend of the sky burial. For thirty years she was lost in the wild and alien landscape of Tibet, in the vast and silent plateaux and the magisterial mountain ranges, living with communities of nomads, moving with the seasons and struggling to survive.

In this haunting book, Xinran recreates Shu Wen’s remarkable journey in a grand story of love, loss, loyalty and survival. Moving, shocking and finally enriching, Sky Burial paints a unique portrait of a woman and a land, both at the mercy of fate and politics.

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