Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 Book Reports

I don't know what my problem was for the first three or so months of 2016, but I do know I started a new job in May this year (staff writer for the Lehi Free Press) and then another new job in September (elementary school choir director). My reading time got cut way back since I stopped folding laundry (that's when I listen to audio books) and hard copy books put me to sleep after a page and a half. I'm an old woman! I'm going to do a round up of the books I read this year.

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
    A World War II story where the main characters are a female pilot and a female spy. They use their brains and their femininity to get out of crazy situations and to outsmart the men. It's very clever and I enjoyed it. I finished it in January when I was working on a huge quilt (listened to it on Audible) and I remember it made the time fly by. That is all I remember about it, though. And that's why I always have to do a book report!

2. The Cenote by Chelsea Dyreng
    This was written by my sister Melissa's friend and I've always enjoyed Chelsea's blog posts (stalker). I've never read anything like it, which is a huge bonus. There is a definite message and I thought it was beautifully told. I wrote on Goodreads that I liked that the love story came after the marriage. Twist!

3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
    Brian and I read this together. I can see why it's a science-fiction classic. It was very thought-provoking, Brian and I had many interesting conversations because of this book. I had no desire to read the rest of the series, though. I feel that way about almost every series, though. Also, the movie is crap.

4. Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith
    I'm going to quote my Goodreads review because all that has stayed with me about this book is training for Bolder Boulder while listening to it and being SO BORED I thought I might die. "It's such a thorough biography, which I appreciate. I have to admit that there was a big section of Eisenhower's life when I didn't like him much. The ambition, the temper, the cheating on his wife, the smoking... Not a great impression. Even during all that, I can appreciate his leadership and decisiveness. He was never afraid to take responsibility, even when it made him look bad. Also, I have to be grateful that he was the one making decisions when it came to dropping more atomic bombs. He wasn't having that - I'm glad he could see we didn't need them to win. This is such a long book! Hard not to get bored."

5. Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
    I watched Alan Cumming's episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" and I remembered his grandfather's story. I can't believe all that was going on in Alan's life at the time (that's what this memoir covers). Family history is one of my favorite subjects and I agree with Cumming - knowing the stories of our ancestors can only make us better. Knowing anyone's story makes us more compassionate toward them. Alan Cumming is a weird guy, but I feel like I know him now and I "get" him.

6. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
    I gave this book more of a chance than I normally would have because Brian listened to it and laughed a lot. We laugh at the same stuff, so I thought I'd love it. I only smiled a few times. It was like a science fiction version of Three's Company. So much miscommunication and misunderstandings. Bah! I can't like that.

7. The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    Now we're talking! I had to have little sticky arrows next to my bed when I was reading this because I flagged so many things. Goodwin started with the immigrant grandparents of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy and established a pattern of personality and ambition that ran through both the Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys. Fascinating! I'd never really heard Kathleen Kennedy's story (President Kennedy's older sister) and I still can't get over it. She fell in love with a duke when her father was an ambassador in England. They got married, but only after Kathleen had to renounce her religion and lose her mother's love. That's for real, Rose Kennedy wouldn't even look at her daughter even after Kathleen's husband was killed only a few months into their marriage (it was during WWII). Then there's the whole hiding Rosemary's mental illness and then Joe secretly having her lobotomized while Rose was on vacation. And John becoming president! How did THAT happen? This book is so well done.

8. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
    Artemis Fowl is a 12 year-old millionaire, devious genius. Captain Holly Short is special agent and a fairy. Artemis wants to collect the fairy gold he's sure is hidden somewhere and he will do almost anything to get it. The thing that I liked most about this book is being in the head of the bad guy AND the good guys. Fun! And easy.

9. Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer
    That's right, I read the next one. Artemis and Holly team up! I think I liked the second one even more than the first. Even though I missed Evil Artemis Fowl - he was much more like a regular, scared 12 year-old in the second one.

10. Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter
    I had a similar experience with Pollyanna as I did with Little Women. I'm reading along thinking, "This is so sentimental! Bleh." Ten minutes later I'm crying like a FOOL. It's timeless and it's about love and family. A few notes; the Glad Game is on EVERY PAGE of the book. Also, Mrs. Snow ("PILLS AND BILLS") is 40 years old in the book. You know, the Mrs. Snow who is bedridden and referred to as an old lady? Yeah, that one. Forty years old. Not cool, Eleanor H. Porter.

11. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling
    Here's what I wrote in my Goodreads review (because Bridget and Brian are reading it now and asking me questions that I can't answer because I FORGOT): "I loved reconnecting with my old friends! It was too short and I definitely missed all the fleshing out that a novel format would have given me, but it was still a pleasure from start to finish. Especially appreciated what they did with Draco. Who knew?"

12. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    You may recall that I avoid Oprah's Book Club picks because she can't tell me what to read. I heard about this book before Oprah chose it, though. The Underground Railroad is an amazing, important book. I've read historical fiction and non-fiction that delves into slavery before and after the Civil War, but this is not like anything I've ever read. The slaves aren't part of the background, they're not being saved by a white person. This is from the perspective of the slaves - how being owned by other humans affected them. It feels so true. Finally.

13. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot #4) by Agatha Christie
    I watched the BBC version of "And Then There Were None" (because Poldark was in it) and I'd read that book a long time ago. I found a review that said The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was secretly Christie's best, so I wanted to try it. In another life I fancy I could be an excellent detective, see. I thought I had all the clues pointing in one direction and then Christie tricked me! I didn't see the end coming and that's delightful.

14. Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
    I binge-ed on the original Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the revival that came out the day after Thanksgiving. Then I watched the revival with my Mom and sister-in-law, Claire. And still I was in the mood for more Lauren Graham. My favorite chapters were the ones about Gilmore Girls. I admit I was hoping for something more juicy than her saying Scott Patterson is so nice and everyone is so talented. I wouldn't have said anything more either, but I wished she had had a terrible first impression of any of her co-workers before they got to know each other. Come on! I laughed several times - Graham is funniest when she's talking about her own life.

15. The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough
    I'm about halfway through this one. McCullough is my favorite! So far the biggest surprise is John Roebling having seances to talk to his departed wife. Man! What a different time. All the caisson sicknesses and deaths must have been so terrifying and confusing. I love reading about people with so much passion and courage to make stuff happen.

16. The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville
    I just saw that this is part of a series and it's the second book. What?! I think I got this at Pioneer Book because it was on the dollar table or something. So far I like it. It takes place in 1788 in New South Wales. The main character, Daniel Rooke, has just been badly injured in the Revolutionary War and now he has to figure out his life. This is the hard-copy book I'm reading right now (I always have one on the nightstand and one that I'm listening to), so it's going about a page and a half a day. Struggle.

I should start keeping track of the books I read to the boys. We get about 15 books from the library every three weeks and I read one to them almost every night. (The other nights we read a classic from our own library or one of their assigned books from school.) Last night I read them Ninja Baby by David Zeltser and illustrated by Diane Goode. The three of us laughed and laughed. Colin asked if we could read it again tonight. :) Brian and Bridget have gone through all the Percy Jackson books and I think one of the Artemis Fowl books this year.

So, it was a pretty good year for reading, but not so much for reporting. :)

1 comment:

melissa said...

You're so well-read! Your description of "Hitchhikers . . ." (which I've never read) is hilarious. You MUST read The Last Messenger of Zitol by Chelsea Dyreng and tell me what you think. Please!