Monday, December 29, 2008

(My) Best Books of 2008

(in the order that I read them)

  1. Court Duel by Sherwood Smith.  I love this story; I love the world Sherwood has created, I love the characters, I love Mel and how she's trying to do what's right and what she should while also trying to find her way.  I love Danric and everyone else and I really, really, want more about these characters.  (YA)
  2. Bloom by Elizabeth Scott.  Another book whose main character I absolutely loved. Lauren doesn't live her life so much as she just goes with the flow.  It isn't until a guy she knew when she was kid comes back into her life that Lauren realizes how much she's been missing in her life.  And that's when things start to get sticky and Lauren realizes that going after what she wants and what makes her happy could be the hardest thing she does. (YA)
  3. Inda by Sherwood Smith.  Hee.  Another book by Smith, but with totally different characters.  Almost a different world, but not really.  Inda is set centuries before Court Duel.  Full of families, royal strife, betrayals, war, pirates, and one boy's honor, it was an amazing story and I was thrilled to find out that there were three more parts.  The fourth (and last) book in this series should be out in 2009 and I can't wait. (YA)
  4. The Spymaster's Lady by Johanna Bourne is amazing.  Yes, I know it's a romance novel. Yes, I know it's a historical romance novel.  Yes, I know that the cover has a shirtless man on the front and that that has nothing to do with the plot.  I don't care.  This is one gripping, intelligent, funny, and twisty story and I love it.  I've read it four times now, and each time I'm picking up something that I glossed over or missed the first time around.  There are clues about the characters that I didn't get until after I'd finished the novel.  Such a great book.  (HR)
  5. The Host by Stephanie Meyer.  OK, say what you will about the Twilight series (yes, I have all the books; yes, I enjoyed the books; no, I haven't seen the movie although I will once my roommate finishes the first book), The Host was awesome and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to read it.  The whole aliens thing turned me off (because, haha, I don't really like space soap operas/aliens/funny green men who want to eat my brain books) and it wasn't until I was moving this summer that I picked this up.  And promptly spent the whole night reading it.  I was engaged, I was cheering, I was so angry for Wanda that I could have spit, and I almost cried several different times.  I really, really hope that Meyer continues this series.  (SF)
  6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Go forth and read it now.  It's a cross between a post-apocalyptic world meets The Girl Who Owned a City plus The Lottery with violence and bravery and honor and survival at all costs thrown in (ala Kate, from Magic Burns) and it was so, so good.  I've heard rumors that this was the first book in a three-part series and I really hope that's true. (YA)
  7. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.  Taylor was abandoned at age seven by her mother at the 7-11 on Jellicoe Road and she's spent her whole life since alternately trying to find her mother and to forget her.  Her final year at the foster home she lives in, the closest thing she has to a mother (Hannah) vanishes, people from her past show back up, secrets that Taylor has forgotten return, and Taylor realizes that the life she's living has been lived before by people she's never met, but has read about in Hannah's unfinished novel.  (And yeah, did my summary confuse you too?  Try Amazon's; it's much better.) (YA)
(Other books that I really enjoyed reading this year: Cast in Shadow (SFF), Magic Burns (UF), Black Ice (F/R), The Fox: also by S. Smith (YA), Black Ships (YA), Perfect You: also by E. Scott (YA), The King's Shield: also by S. Smith (YA), Good Omens (F), The Rites of Spring(Break) (F), Steelflower (SFF), and The Graveyard Book (SFF))

Two things of note.
  1. My theme of the year: YA.  No, seriously.  YA this year rocked.
  2. I really need my niece to be at least eight years older already.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To everyone that celebrates, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Or, I hope you have a happy fifth day of Hanukkah, a wonderful Solstice, or just a great 25th!

PS: my roommate got me "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" for Christmas and I can't wait to read that later tonight.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

To be productive

Means that very soon I will have to get out of my warm bed and get ready to face this day.  I have a to-do list that's as long as my arm and I really feel like everything on their needs to be done today.  Le sigh.  'Tis the season, and all that.

I'm not getting as much read on Bleak House as I wanted too; right now I'm trying to knit as much as possible and unfortunately, I need my hands for both reading and knitting.  Still, I'm getting at least a chapter read each day.  Right now, the cousins and the orphaned governess are on their way to the home of Mr.  Jarndyce, their mysterious benefactor/cousin/I don't know yet.

It's very exciting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A light on the horizon

This story, about Harper Collins and Borders, is giving me a teensy bit of hope.  

Teensy. Bit. Of. Hope.

Starting Bleak House today

Well, I'm starting it if I can ever drag myself out of bed.  Unable to fall asleep + slight cold = very much wanting to stay in bed all day long.

ETA:  I've started Bleak House and I'm enjoying it, although I have several hundred pages to go.  It's very detailed and the perfect thing to read when I'm stuck on the subway, stopped somewhere between home and work.  I find I'm very interested to know about the Jarndyce & Jarndyce case; I want to know what the dispute is about and how all the characters (that we've met so far) relate to it.  

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Looking ahead to the coming year

I find I need new challenges.  I can of course challenge myself to read new, interesting books, but it's a lot more fun when I have something (like pride) on the line.

First thing Google gave me when I typed in "2009 reading challenges" was J.Kaye's list and damn! That is a comprehensive list of challenges for 2009.

I think my search might just stop here.


Paranormal 999 Challenge.  Heh, no brainer.  Of course I'm doing this one.  I could probably do this one the first month.
The 2nd Book Challenge.  OK, again, one I'll probably do without trying, so why not?
Young Adult Book Challenge.  Once again, no brainer.
Support Your Local Library Challenge. I'll be doing the third challenge, and again, no brainer.  I

OK, it's time to join some challenging Challenges, because what's the point of joining things I'm going to do anyway?

Christian Readers 09 Challenge.  Excellent.  I'm not sure what I'll be reading yet, but I know C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters will be the first book.  I started this years ago, but never finished it.   
Genre Challenge.  Oh, this one already started (Nov to Nov), so I'm behind, but it looks like fun.  And I can totally catch up. =)

I'm not going to do the 100+ Challenge that I see mentioned everywhere because I know I'll read 100+ books.  Nope, instead I'm going to challenge myself to read 10 books more than the total I read this year.  

Hee, the 42 Science Fiction Challenge is so going on my list.
Hmm, this challenge could be interesting:  War Through the Generations.
I need a nonfiction challenge... and I'm still looking for one.  Maybe I could just challenge myself again?  I did that this year and I've read seven (I think) nonfiction books.  

That's it!  I challenge myself.  OK, here goes.

I will read six (I think) nonfiction books this year.  The catch: they have to be about something/someplace/some person in New York museums.  Awesome.

My six books are:
So, I need on on either the V&A or the British Museum, one for Greece, one on the Louvre, and one more.  I want it to be about a museum I've been to...

(even later)

Oh, I can't help myself!  I like the looks of the Read Your Name Challenge.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And now that NaNo is done

I find that I still have no time (or energy) to post! Haha, I *love* my life.

Random things:
  • Sassymonkey's post (back in November, yes I am *that* far behind) about how much money she saves a year by getting books from her library was very thought provoking. One the one hand, I am all for saving money, especially now that I have so very little of it. I'm also running low on space for books, so getting books that I can't keep is great for me. But... I want to get into book publishing (it's why I moved from Seattle to New York) and book publishers are not having a great year. (That is an understatement.) It's been said by many, many people already in the past few months about how book publishers (and book stores) need people to buy books, so I guess I almost feel guilty for the happy feeling I have inside, estimating how much money I'm saving. (Almost. I really like saving money.)
  • For Christmas this year, 95% of the gifts I'm giving are books.  (Books  I bought.  At a bookstore.)
  • I want to buy The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for people for Christmas, but I don't know a single person that I think would like it. That makes me sad. I also want to buy Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, but same problem. Very sad. I need my niece to be eight years older. Or friends who like YA novels. 
  • I need friends who like science fiction and fantasy. None of my friends do and it makes me very sad, because I can't talk to them about all the great books I'm reading, because they're all "eh, I don't like science fiction." I'm trying to trick them with novels like The Time Traveler's Wife and Tam Lin, but it's slow going.
  • I am slogging my way through Generation Kill on the subway and I really think I should be more disturbed by some of the things the soldiers say/think/do, but... I'm *of* this generation. I watched violent movies, played first-person shooter games, and watched the Gulf War on TV. I read Ender's Game at age twelve (and every year after, I reread it) and it wasn't until this past summer, when a friend I'd given it to pointed out that it disturbed him because the kids were being raised to war, that I got "it." I was all, uh-huh, yeah, violence. It took me way too long to understand that that fact disturbed him. I just read it as normal. 
  • Marg, of Reading Adventures, posted a link to Kim's 2009 Blog Improvement Challenge; it looks like an interesting idea, and I think that it might help me to remain excited about posting. It's not that I don't want to post more than I do, but I always think I'll have time "tomorrow" and I don't.  I also think that I'll have more energy "tomorrow" and I don't. 
  • I really want to change my blog format around now.
  • I think Bleak House is going to be the next book I read on the subway.  I've wanted to read it forever and it'll last me a while, but it's big and heavy and do I really need an additional five pounds in my bag?  Yes, I think I do.
  • I really like the Cast in series by Michelle Sagara (West), but I'm slightly annoyed that the plot of that series has yet to move in the direction I'm waiting for it to move in.  There was all this build up, all this great tension... and then she picked up another plot.  Maybe in the fifth book, she'll get back to "my plot" and I can rejoice.