Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What I liked and what I didn't in 2012

I'm late.
2012 ended two days ago.
But here are my bookish reflections on the 50 books I read in 2012 (Goodreads says I read 52 -- my own list says only 50 -- not sure where I'm off -- oh well).
Favorite classicTheir Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston -- how I missed reading this in high school or college is a mystery -- my comments at the time "Thank you for the privilege of marveling over your brilliant words."   5 stars.
Favorite Mother/Daughter book club selectionThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine -- wow -- this one hit home -- a fictional account of two friends, one white, one black, who are confronted with racism and the closing of the public schools in LR.  5 stars.
Made me laugh out loudThe Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett -- if you are a royalist like me -- this was a witty, delightful reimagining of what Queen Elizabeth would be like if she was a bibliophile.  Loved it (except for the one sexual reference -- so unnecessary).   4 stars.
Favorite book club pick & epicSomeone Knows my Name by Lawrence Hill -- what I said at the time:  "If you want to get lost in a difficult story and life of an incredible woman, open your soul to Aminata.  You’ll be glad you know her name."  5 stars.
Favorite juvenile fictionThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate -- my thoughts at the time:  "Ms. Applegate has given us a glorious example that our animal friends might know more about endurance, hope, and faith than their caregivers do. And Ivan is the one and only one to help them all."  5 stars.

Favorite YA fictionBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys -- I love WWII historical fiction and this was no exception.  My thoughts:  "In harrowing detail author, Ruta Sepetys, brings to life the forgotten story of Stalin’s obliteration of the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania) during WWII. This was an illuminating account of what happened to nearly 20 million Russians, primarily doctors, authors, professors and other intellectual and political dissidents, who were shipped to Siberia under Stalin’s fascist regime."   4 stars (and not to be confused with the OTHER gray book!)

I hated but everyone else lovedThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce -- I thought it was so bad I didn't even review it. 

Favorite memoirCall the Midwife by Jennifer Worth -- the PBS miniseries of the same name is based on Mrs. Worth's memoirs -- I loved this book!  My thoughts:  "This was a glorious book. Her storytelling was superb. I was immediately transported to post-War London, walking foggy streets, among ramshackle buildings and immense poverty. But among the ruins, is a group of midwives, The Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus, who care for the greater population of women of the East End."  5 stars

Biggest let downThe Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian -- I had such HIGH HOPES for this book!  But alas, "for me, this was a huge disappointment."  2 stars

Overall favorite of 2012Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein -- when a writer can make me audibly respond while reading -- you know it's good -- "It is fretful from the first page to the last. I even audibly GASPED during 'Verity’s' graphic narrative. Be patient in the beginning. It’s not an easy book to read, and the 1st person/3rd person narration is a bit tricky – but it is well worth it."  5 stars

So there you have it.  My winners and losers of 2012.

Goals for 2013
  • I gave up on Challenges last year -- it was such a liberating experience!  I will never do one again!
  • Read 52 books -- one a week.  I'm not as prolific as most bloggers -- but I do what I can do.
  • Read because I want to read.
  • Get caught up on my last 3 "review requests." 
  • Keep Mother/Daughter book club in tact!
Finally --

Keep calm and read a great book!