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Reading List: 2010

EDIT: Check it out, as of Dec. 21, I exceeded the maximum posting size!  *writes too much* Very well. Movies are now here.

The Guidelines: I count any book over 100 pages that I read from cover to cover (exceptions made for plays in written), but only first reads. Bold means I absolutely loved it, italics mean I greatly enjoyed and would recommend it, plain text indicates that it was average to just okay, and strikethrough means I hated it; emphasis is subject to change throughout the year as I re-evaluate.  NF= nonfiction. Links go to Amazon or similar, and brief annotations are included below each entry.

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BOOKS

January
1. How to Make a Wave - Lisa Hurst-Archer.  224 pg/2008.  [1/13]
Meh.  I probably shouldn't have bothered with this one at all, but I get indiscriminate when I don't read for weeks and have time to kill at the library.  I spent most of it marveling at the sheer density of descriptive writing.  Books like this are probably why I overused adjectives in middle school.

February
2. Everything Beautiful - Simmone Howell.  292 pg/2008. [2/13]
Angry, atheist girl tossed against her will into Jesus camp.  In Australia, which takes a while to figure out, so I thought I'd mention it - thanks, American editing!  No, but really, you'd expect it to be a gag-worthy message of redemption and hope, but it actually unfolds in ways that feel appropriate for the character.  Good summer tale.

3. Sister Wife - Shelley Hrdlitschka.  269 pg/2008. [2/14]
Possibly as a result of visualizing that "Nine Wives" episode of Numb3rs pretty hard, this was way more entertaining than I feared it would be after reading 'Torn from the headlines and inspired by current events.'  A lot creepy at all times, but the different perspectives helped, and while it didn't turn out like I'd expect - the epilogue felt sort of like it was tacked on to send the appropriate YA message - it still drew me in.

4. Madapple - Christina Meldrum.  404 pg/2008. [2/16]
Madapple indeed.  Mad, twisted, confusing, and with a lot of whip-lashy jumping between 2003 & 2007.  I think the most surprising part is the lack of magic/paranormal, given how hard the cover and trance-like writing style on Ass-log's* end tried to convey that.  Also, court gets very boring, very quickly when it reads like a stenographer's report.  (*Okay, it's Aslaugh, but for some reason the author felt a need to use that spelling while having a character sound it out phonetically, and from that point on I stopped taking her seriously)

5. Outside Beauty - Cynthia Kadohata.  [2/20]
A bit slow to start, but weaves itself into an intense story as it goes on.  Little more mature tone than other stuff I've read from her, which was a nice graduation.  And odd, given that the main character's still only 13, which I didn't realize until just now.

March
April
May
6. The Blue Hour: A Life of Jean Rhys [NF] - Lilian Pizzichini.  304 pg/2009.  [5/2]
OH MY GOD, I READ A THING.  Mom checked it out of the library; I'd never heard of her but was drawn into the interesting story of her childhood in Dominica.  Her life gets less interesting as an adult, but at least it was enough to keep me reading, even if said life is relatively depressing.

7. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys.  171 pg/1966. [5/7]
And then, I figured, why not read the prequel to Jane Eyre, the one that explains the origins of Mr. Rochester's mad wife?  It's written in desperately confusing syntax and the entire middle section is just dull and tiresome - but the beginning is interesting and the brief part 3 does absolute wonders as a missing scene for the other novel.  If nothing else, just read part 3.

June
8. Lucky Us - Joan Silber.  276 pg/2001 [6/4]
"A love story of our time," says the blurb.  Yes, because who would want to read love stories from a time when people didn't cheat on their devoted partners after being diagnosed with HIV?  This book frustrated me SO MUCH because the writing style is amazing, and I fell in love with Elisa and Gabe within 5 pages and wanted to read about their relationship forever, but then the plot took a nosedive into STUPID LAND.  Why am I still recommending it?  The writing is that good.  And I'm not reading enough to be discerning.

9. ****The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield.  406 pg/2006.****  [6/12]
SO THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO LOVE A BOOK!  *collapses in paroxysms of joy*  This is a modern novel and it is amazing.  The whole time I was reading it, I fell harder and harder in love, and I kept dreading the point at which it would go south and tick me off, but it never happened!  It's a modern Gothic novel, I suppose, but even set in present-day England there's a sense of timelessness about it (probably aided by the way the chapters of the central story from 50 years ago are woven through the current stuff).  There's an element of mystery, too; Setterfield sprinkles clues that a clever reader can pick up on before the final reveal.

And for anyone, like me, who has a passionate love for old books, Margaret Lea loves them even more and has all these wonderful descriptions about both the books themselves and the stories within.  I read this almost entirely at work, during short breaks and lunch, and it would only take five seconds for the world around me to disappear as its pages swallowed me into the story, leaving me entranced by the tale Vida tells to her biographer.  Did I mention the part where there was nothing I disliked?  Because that's a first.

10. Yamsi: A Year in the Life of a Wilderness Ranch [NF] - Dayton Hyde.  348 pg/1971.  [6/17]
Not even off my previous high, this was a perfect follow-up.  Beautiful collection of musings on both farm/ranch life and the need for conservation of wild areas.  Nature + animals both wild and domestic = everything I need, and that was before the beautiful writing + photographs painted such a clear picture of the scene that it felt like being transported through both space and time.  (bonus link: my copy's cover, with different subtitle)

July
11. Halic: The Story of a Gray Seal - Ewan Clarkson.  158 pg/1970.  [7/13]
I love old wildlife novels more than words can express, but I have never read one about an aquatic mammal.  Particularly enjoyed the description of all the other sea creatures, rich and descriptive detail mixed in with scientific fact I'd largely forgotten, which on the whole was wonderfully educational.  I also like the 70's flair of working in present-day man, putting a mild conservationism spin on it without interrupting the biography. 

12. Frosty: A Raccoon to Remember - Harriet E. Weaver.  192 pg/1973.  [NF] [7/15]
I am on a hot streak here!  I love pet/wildlife biographies almost more than wildlife novels, this one in particular because the title does not lie.  Frosty is insanely intelligent, with his escapades and personality more clearly and warmly detailed than many authors can accomplish for their dogs.  It left me giggling all over the place.

August
13. Term Paper - Ann Rinaldi. 202 pg/1980. [8/14]
Her very first novel!  What a change from the historical fiction she's famous for.  I finally took the plunge after passing it on the shelf for years, and I'm very fond of the 70s-ness it encapsulates.  Really good, solid story about family.  Note to self: out of print, buy at library sale someday.

14. The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E. Pearson.  265 pg/2008. [8/15]
I waited two years for this?  When I'm promised stories about girls waking up from comas, I don't expect them to be set in the future and brushing the edge of medical sci-fi.

15. Chosen By a Horse [NF] - Susan Richards.  248 pg/2006.  [8/19]
Beautiful, compelling memoir of horse ownership that truly focuses on the horse, and by doing so, makes the part about her life more interesting and relative.  Lay Me Down is a mare to remember.

16. Saving Gracie [NF] - Susan Bradley.  219 pg/2010.  [8/22]
"How one dog escaped the shadowy world of American puppy mills," although it was really more an overview of a puppy mill case that tried semi-successfully to focus on one dog (it's not clear why they picked that dog), and parts of it read more like a reference text on mills than a memoir.  Still a unique book.

17. Waiting for Christopher - Louise Hawes.  224 pg/2002. [8/22]
See, this is exactly the kind of solid, well-plotted, modern day, not-centered-around-a-boyfriend YA novel that the world needs more of.  Good for you, Louise!

18. Harmless* - Dana Reinhardt.  229 pg/2007.  [8/22]
*Is the phrase you use when telling a little white lie about your friend being raped at knifepoint so your parents won't find out you were at an older guy's party. Right?  I know that's what I always say.  I read it because the author's last book wasn't bad, but this was just a lot of rambling from three girls' perspectives.  Personally, I wanted to hear more about fringe character Bronwyn.  She seemed cool.

19. The Blind Faith Hotel - Pamela Todd.  312 pg/2008. [8/25]
I might just be really in love with the cover, but I loved the setting and the characters too, especially Zoe.  Wasn't as fond of the dream sequences, but otherwise it had a lot in common with #17, even with the minor inclusion of a boy.  Except this focused more on family dynamics, and made it an even better story that I think might settle in my brain and ripen with age.

20. Puppet - Eva Wiseman.  243 pg/2009.  [8/27]
*rapt with attention for a part of history she's never heard of before* (blood trials)  Raced to the end, desperate for a conclusion.  It's like the Salem Witch Trials, 200 years later, across the ocean and with Jewish people on trial.

21. The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes [NF] - ed. Lucy Spelman & Ted Mashima.  310 pg/2009.  [8/31]
"And other surprising true stories of zoo vets and their patients."  As an anthology, it was fun, but seemed heavier on the medical aspect of the cases without as much focus on the animals, or maybe I was just dissatisfied with 10-page stories that jumped from vet to vet and went all around the globe - I like proper autobiographies more than just the tales.  

September
22. Secrets of Truth and Beauty - Megan Frazer.  347 pg/2009.  [9/5]
This should have been interesting; instead, it suffocated on its obsession with themes of gayness and identity.

23. The Pastures of Beyond [NF] - Dayton Hyde.  254 pg/2005.  [9/5]
A wonderful, musing quasi-memoir of times gone by, or literally, "an old cowboy looks back at the Old West. "  He really IS like living history, even salty and rough around the edges.  I'd passed this on the shelf before, but it's much more interesting after reading Yamsi.  I can't think of anything I've ever read quite like it.

24. Dog - Michelle Herman.  188 pg/2005.  [9/5]
I literally wandered blind into the general fiction section, looked up, and saw this.  And it ACTUALLY FOCUSES ON A WOMAN ACQUIRING A PUPPY.  Heavens!  There's also a lot of introspection and no truly discernible point or plot, but it's cozy.  I feel like I'll appreciate it more when I'm actually the age of the 45-year-old main character, though.

25. How to Build a House - Dana Reinhardt.  227 pg/2008.  [9/6]
Things that were unnecessary: Gabriel, Teddy.  Why would you ruin a good story with such stupid relationship nonsense?  And this was still the best she's done so far.  We're done, Reinhardt.

26. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World [NF] - Vicki Myron w/ Bret Witter.  277 pg/2008. [9/6]
The title says it all.  The only thing more amazing is the fact that it took place during my lifetime, ending only in 2006.

27. Earthgirl - Jennifer Cowan.  232 pg/2009.  [9/8]
Hahahahaha!  The perfect representation of idealistic teenage eco-nuttiness, complete with blog entries, condensed into a practically tangible bit of delicious hilarity.  It takes a phenomenal amount of talent plus a helping of magic to so completely capture the attitude in text like that.

28. The Daughters - Joanna Philbin.  275 pg/2010.  [9/12]
All right, as long as you promise it's only going to be a trilogy, I'm cool with the cliffhanger ending, because this was really fun. Light, well written, intriguing characters (who might even be worthy of multiple-book focus), nothing squicky, neat premise.  I kind of want it to be a movie.

29. Purge - Sara Darrer Littman.  234 pg/2009.  [9/12]
Mercifully light on purging details since it was set entirely within a recovery program.

30. A Little Friendly Advice - Siobhan Vivian.  248 pg/2008.  [9/12]
This may be the most accurately representative cover I've ever seen.  Besides being an attractive, compact piece of a book, it also contains one of the best groups of friends I've ever read.  Definitely like this author.

31. Stealing Henry - Carolyn MacCullough.  196 pg/2005.  [9/13]
Written in present tense, intercut with flashbacks from the mother's perspective - that's two types of new.  I can't get over the bizarre choice to have a 70s photograph on the cover even though the flashbacks are 1986.

32. The Off Season - Catherine Gilbert Murdock.  277 pg/2007.  [9/13]
The setting's still neat, but turns out D.J. Schwenk's not really cool enough to have a sequel.  She's kind of a lunkhead, and I hate her friend Amber. Now I don't even know why I bought Dairy Queen.

33. The Daily Coyote [NF] - Shreve Stockton. 287 pg/2008 [9/18]
I had not heard of it before, but there's a current photo blog, and I'm in love. She reminds me of an updated Dayton Hyde, albeit more sentimental (quite welcome), and her musings about the landscape and rich descriptions of life with an orphaned coyote are a treat to read. And the book itself is an absolute work of art, with thick, semi-glossy pages and gorgeous full-page color photos in every chapter. Must buy!

34. The Dogs Who Came to Stay [NF] - George Pitcher. 163 pg/1995. [9/19]
Oh, that was so lovely. Beautiful dogs on the cover, beautifully named Lupa and Remus, and a nearly 100% focus on said wonderful dogs - I knew only just enough about the men to get a sense of who the author was, and loved it that way.

35. Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish [NF] - Mark Levin.  216 pg/2007.  [9/19]
Spoiler alert: mostly anguish. The dog is old and close to dying for most of the book, so I cried a fair amount, but it felt rambling and was way too much about the author's personal struggles with grief.  Not enough cute dog.

36. Picture Perfect - D. Anne Love.  291 pg/2007.  [9/19]
Entertaining?  It kept me reading until the end without a break.

37. A Lion Called Christian [NF]- Anthony Bourke & John Rendall.  226 pg/1971 (2009 updated edition);  [9/20]
Don't know the original, but I bet it lost some charm in the revision.  Much as I like the updated glossy photos and the extra insight about what happened after the original publication, there were too many random asides about how in 2009 "now we know this" kinds of things that distracted from the essence of the lion-and-men love story.

38. Home Is the North - Walt Morey.  160 pg/1967.  [9/22]
Ah, esteemed author of wilderness & wildlife tales. The world needs more boy-and-dog stories set in remote parts of Alaska, especially in earlier times. So fantastic.

39. Kicked, Bitten and Scratched [NF] - Amy Sutherland.  317 pg/2006.  [9/24] 
*Life and Lessons at the World's Premier School for Exotic Animal Trainers
Nothing like vicariously living through a grueling year of upper education in a single night.  It was fascinating, but I can't imagine anyone voluntarily going through this.  SO HARD.  So insufficiently rewarding!  I'd rather just visit the zoo.  Maybe try to find an exotic petting zoo if I needed interaction. 

40. Bad Apple - Laura Ruby. 249 pg/2009. [9/25]
Enough about your tense home life and ailing grandfather, Unexpectedly Boring Girl! I wish to hear more about the circumstances surrounding the alleged affair with your teacher, which took place in the distinct background except when cyberbullying plot points needed to move forward. I know we all know it didn't happen, but couldn't you have at least talked more about him so I could vicariously live your secret crush? I wanted to know how he was holding up, mainly; I need to get out of YA.

41. Flanders Point - Jacquie Gordon. 336 pg/1997. [9/30] 
Well, per Amazon's recommendations, I got out of YA...and I gotta say, despite multiple scenes of HORRIFIC SQUICK that have nothing to do with the (delayed until after graduation) student/teacher relationship, that was pretty amazing and kind of everything I've ever wanted out of this particular scenario. With bonus 1950s setting and beautiful descriptions of wild areas. The squicks forbid bolding, but oh, it's so close. I am sure no one else will ever handle it this well again.

October
42. All We Know of Heaven - Jacquelyn Mitchard. 312 pg/2008. [10/1]
I got whiplash jumping between all the points of view. Points for including adult perspectives, but what does it mean when you spend all your time mentally transposing the underlying base scenario of brain injury into completely different [Charlie/Amita] contexts?
 
43. The Miles Between - Mary E. Pearson. 266 pg/2009. [10/2]
Stop selectively omitting things from your synopses, Pearson.  I expected a road trip, not a road trip with a weird dusting of magic/wish-granting floating over it.  The sharp right hook of a climax was a nice twist and made me cry, but still, no cookies for you.  Blacklisted!

44. Ghost Town - Richard W. Jennings. 165 pg/2009. [10/4]
Well, that was a whole lot of weird fantasy wish-fulfillment.

45. Shopaholic Ties the Knot - Sophie Kinsella. 327 pg/2003. [10/7]
First Kinsella book! I'm a goner. It took me roughly five lines to startle, "What the, this is like reading my own blog/thoughts," and 50 pages of tumbling headlong into the movie-enhanced Luke/Becky squee before realizing, "Wait, I hate weddings." Still, guess who accidentally cramped up her arm gripping the book to read it all in one uninterrupted sitting?  Oh, and I super appreciate that this book is strictly PG-13, right down to the "OK, you get one free F-bomb, but mostly keep it cleaner" rule.

46. The Dashwood Sisters' Secrets of Love - Rosie Rushton. 325 pg/2005. [10/9]
I lost brain cells reading this.

47. Becoming Jane Eyre - Sheila Kohler. 232 pg/2009. [10/10]
It looks so pretty, and yet is so boring until well into part 2. Not as boring as depictions of Jane Austen's life, but with random, super-unnecessary gross parts. Though it did helpfully catch me up to speed on the plot points of all the Bronte works I've forgotten or never really knew. 

48. A Kiss Remembered - Sandra Brown. 183 pg/1983. [10/15]
The lengths I will go to in an attempt to recreate Charlie/Amita. Bad, bad lengths. An age-appropriate student/teacher romance, I'm promised, but where was the intellectual connection, or even any appreciation for the educational aspect? Because between all the heavy making out and sexin', somebody forgot to actually illustrate why they're in love. And the writing was so cheesy bad. Ugh, happy ending or no, romance novels = bleh, and I should know that.

49. Shopaholic & Baby - Sophie Kinsella. 359 pg/2007. [10/16]
Becky's spastic voice gets grating very quickly, turns out, but Luke is slightly more of an awesome presence in this one, especially near the end. So there's that (and Venetia >>>> Elinor as a Luke-stealing nemesis. SHE'S A RED-HAIRED BITCH AND I [LOVE TO] HATE HER). This will probably get better in my memory with time and distance [edit: done, now italicized). They're fun, cutesy books, and better they exist than the ones I read in between.

50. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke. 534 pg/2003. [10/22]
Was ruined slightly by seeing the movie first; nothing can match the movie!, so I knew how everything was going to turn out and wished there was an element of surprise, and yet...not outside of Harry Potter have I been so taken by something with an element of fantasy in it (the predominant theme still being, of course, that BOOKS, ESPECIALLY OLD BOOKS, ARE AWESOME). Read and read and read, and feel like this is a book one could even enjoy rereading. Plus, a horned marten is much more fun than a ferret, and the element of Dustfinger being in love with Resa was quite the fun twist.

51. All My Patients Have Tales: Favorite Stories from a Vet's Practice [NF] - Jeff Wells. 226 pg/2006. [10/22]
The inner jacket made favorable comparisons to James Herriot. Other than being much shorter, it was not wrong.

52. Shopaholic & Sister - Sophie Kinsella. 355 pg/2004. [10/23]
I don't know, I can't stop! They're like book-shaped candy. Jess is a pain in the ass, but less annoying than Suze's squealing, and I empathized with Bex more in this one. Even though all I really want out of these books are Luke/Becky moments (which don't seem to happen too often; way to gloss over their 10-month honeymoon around the world), and would like all the tertiary characters to go away, I rather liked this ending. Potentially fatal experiences are always the way to go. 

53. Worlds Apart - Lindsay Lee Johnson. 166 pg/2005. [10/24]
Too many (largely annoying) issues in a book too young and superficial to handle them. Bump your research up an audience.

54. The Way He Lived - Emily Wing Smith. 232 pg/2008. [10/26]
Author quote: "When I started this story, it had exactly zero plot." Newsflash: nothing changed.

55. ***Paper Hearts - Debrah Williamson.  333 pg/2007.*** [10/27]
Check it out, general fiction bearing my 100% STAMP OF APPROVAL. The ending felt a bit rushed, but still satisfying, and there was nothing I did not love. The ecstasy of loving two books with your whole entire heart in a single year, I cannot describe it!  I have to go a level beyond bold formatting. Spent a fair amount of this book misty-eyed at the achingly heartwarming stuff; also, Hanna, I love how even as an absent character she was so vivid throughout the book that I missed her too.
 
56. Inkspell - Cornelia Funke. 635 pg/2005. [10/29]
Oh, I see. You get me hooked on the Folchart family + Dustfinger & the martens (now there are 2!), and then shove me into the stupid fantasy realm full time before I can protest. Fine, but just know I am only here to keep an eye on Mo & Resa.  Also, aughhhh, 13 is too young for all this kissing and talk of love, make it stop (p.s. Farid is super annoying).  In other news: oh yay, movie!Dustfinger told truth, he does have a family!  Roxane is wonderful.

57. We Bought a Zoo [NF] - Benjamin Mee. 261 pg/2008. [10/30]
I'm thinking that either this book was superfluous after the TV documentary series apparently covered the same stuff, or it should have waited a few years, because the minutiae of red tape and budget work that goes into rehabilitating a closed zoo for Opening Day is quite dull, even before the family drama enters in. At best, it inspired me to play a lot of Zoo Tycoon. Holding out hope for the Matt Damon movie, though.

November
58.
Inkdeath - Cornelia Funke. 663 pg/2008. [11/7]
OK, officially over my indignation, because book 3 = shipper's PARADISE (mild ending spoilers at the bottom). ...oh, and then some stuff happens with fighting bad guys. Maybe some magic. Is that relevant? Resa and Mo spend a lot of time worrying about each other, to my unending thrill, and Dustfinger and Roxane, separately and together, are thoroughly amazing people. Farid and Meggie are not, which is why it's so great when they get shoved to the sidelines and the adults are the main heroes. Happy feelings, everywhere!

59. Cormac: The Tale of a Dog Gone Missing - Sonny Brewer. 228 pg/2007. [11/7]
Purports to be fiction "based on a true story," but in fact reads exactly like a pet memoir, and is just fantastic and wonderful in every way, even though I almost didn't make it past my annoyance with the first couple of backstory chapters. 

60. A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog [NF] - Dean Koontz. 271 pg/2009. [11/13]
I know absolutely nothing about his books, though somehow I know his name, but this writing style was wonderful and the whole thing brought misty tears of sentiment to my eyes. A joyful dog indeed.  

61. Chancey of the Maury River - Gigi Amateau. 246 pg/2008. [11/13]
The writing style of Black Beauty was a little awkward here, but what a magnificent new kid's horse story, with none of the fantasy element implied by the "fire star beacon" on the inside jacket. He's just a noble old school horse getting a new lease on life. There is hope for animal literature yet..

62. Tango: The Tale of an Island Dog - Eileen Beha. 244 pg/2009. [11/13]
Is it really animal literature when your animals talk and behave exactly like humans in little furry suits?

63. A Horse of Her Own - Annie Wedekind. 275 pg/2008. [11/13]
People DO still write classic girl + horse stories!

64. Tales from a Dog Catcher [NF] - Lisa Duffy-Korpics. 252 pg/2009. [11/15]
First story breaks your heart, but the rest are really pretty interesting; this is definitely not a common subject. I only wish she'd made a career out of it so there might be more stories to tell in the future.

65. The Ghost Children - Eve Bunting. 166 pg/1989. [11/20]
Scarier cover than story, but spooky-cute enough and recommended for elementary readers. Wish I'd realized it was for kids before I read it with higher expectations. Stupid library misplacement.

66. First Daughter: White House Rules - Mitali Perkins. 216 pg/2008. [11/20]
Is there even such a thing as YA sequels that live up to the original? I spent most of this annoyed at her inability to distinguish between "public school" and "extra crappy inner-city D.C. public school." There's elitism and there's simple logic.

67. Leaving Jetty Road - Rebecca Burton. 248 pg/2004. [11/21]
WOW. 3rd wheel Sofie was pretty irrelevant, but how much did I love this Australian version of my life, with Lise pulling away from her best friend as said friend gets wrapped up in a boy, and drowning in her anxiety ("The Fear" - oh how I recognized that, here amplified even further)? Only with a bonus twist of anorexia on top of everything? I just soaked up every page. Surprise hit!
 
68. Kat's Fall - Shelley Hrdlitschka.  168 pg/2004. [11/24]
Weird.

69. Positively - Courtney Sheinmel. 216 pg/2009. [11/27]
Applause, author. Just sheer applause for this tale of an HIV-positive girl where the lifelong illness is somehow both a main plot thread and just one facet of her otherwise ordinary (and not at all boy-including! high five) life.

70. The Outside of a Horse - Ginny Rorby. 340 pg/2010. [11/27] 
AWESOME. Parts of it felt aimed more at educating the juvenile set (Premarin, slaughterhouses, etc), but then I forgot about that and cried my way through the second half of the book. Very cool way to incorporate Barbaro into the whole thing, too.

71. Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella. 417 pg/2010. [11/28]
There were multiple pages I had to skip to avoid the extreme embarrassment, and why won't Becky stop trying to throw parties, and Jess has managed to become more obnoxious than Suze, but all in all, points for making Elinor human and just generally having a blast with Minnie's temper tantrums. As previously mentioned, am addicted to this fluff.

72. Girl v. Boy - Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout. 311 pg/2008. [11/29]
You're both immature, title characters. Happy?

73. Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale [NF] - Gwen Cooper. 283 pg/2009. [11/30]
Homer is a cat without eyes, and he is amazing. This book made me go back to wanting cats, after years of Kym steadily transforming me into more of a dog person. There should be more cat memoirs for my perusal.

74. Hold Still - Nina LaCour. 229 pg/2009. [11/30]
Linking you to a blog because this particular cover is what drew me in, and this post also mentions its larger size and has some pictures of the beautiful artwork that are part of what make this book so compelling. I found myself crying more than once, unable to decide which of the girls more closely resembled me and loving them both (mostly), and just feeling every inch of pain in the wake of her inseparable best friend's suicide.

December
75. North of Beautiful - Justina Chen Headley. 373 pg/2009. [12/1]
There's a reason this keeps cropping up in the book suggestions on Amazon every time I go to collect a link, and that's because it's noteworthy. It's funny, nothing about it really struck a chord or amazed me outright, but the whole time I was reading, it just felt like it was densely packed with quality, juggling a lot of issues and storylines without losing or skimping on any of them. I think that's how you determine you're reading good writing by a good author.

76. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else - Erin McCahan. 258 pg/2010. [12/1]
Halfway through, I somehow wanted nothing more than for this 18-year-old-high-schooler's wedding to go off without a hitch (damn you, aww-evoking writing...or maybe it was just the chick lit font implying happy ending destiny). After two-thirds, I just wanted to hit her older fiance for his "it's for Us" ideas, but then I wasn't satisfied with her motivations either; very confusing feelings around. The bonus chapter was a nice treat, however. Also, the main character was named Bronwen, which felt like a little shout-out from the universe to me after #18.

77.
Where People Like Us Live - Patricia Cumbie. 210 pg/2008. [12/3]
Weird and creepy and gross. Just because your details don't use explicit words doesn't mean they don't paint explicit pictures.

78. Call Me Mimi - Francis Chalifour. 178 pg/2008. [12/3]
Fluff, but it really nailed the mental state of an overweight girl more than most such stories. It's weird that it's written by a guy, but I guess being a junior high teacher is his excuse? (no, still weird) True, the excessive lying led to mortified page-flipping, but the French phrases littering every other page fixed a lot.

79. Dancing In Red Shoes Will Kill You - Dorian Cirrone. 213 pg/2005. [12/4] 
An obnoxious feminist sister and the whinypants anti-"censorship" protest ring just trampled right over the potential in this big-chested teenage ballerina story with a side of quasi-mystery intrigue. Which is a shame, because the ultimate meaning of the title was really nifty.

80. The Carrie Diaries - Candace Bushnell. 389 pg/2010. [12/4]
Honestly, I think I love the idea of this so much that I can't properly evaluate it as backstory (especially if it's more in line with the book I haven't read than the TV show) or a standalone story. It just is what it is, and like the movie, I'm glad it exists. It's not improbable I'd read a sequel.

81. The Horses In My Life [NF] - Monty Roberts. 244 pg/2005. [12/4]
Each book of his I read seems to get more interesting. Here I tumbled headlong with enchanted awe into 52 neatly packaged stories, complete with dozens of glossy photos, of legendary and influential equines. Color me thoroughly intrigued by them all, though I'm still traumatized by Ginger.

82. Katie Up and Down the Hall [NF] - Glenn Plaskin. 254 pg/2010. [12/5]
Most of the time, I found it hard to really care about all the human connections, but of course as soon as they started talking about putting Katie to sleep, the ugly crying began and continued for the last 40 pages.

83. A Dog's Life - Peter Mayle. 192 pg/1995. [12/6]
I thought I liked his writing, but I found this novel tiresome from start to finish.

84. Breathing - Cheryl Herbsman. 262 pg/2009. [12/9]
The Southern writing style drove me plumb barmy for about 40 pages, until I locked onto Survivor Chase (genuine Carolina boy) for Jackson, minus a few years. Having already cast Life Unexpected's Lux for the protagonist, since there was a minor kerfluffle about her being 15 to his graduated-18...the book did exactly what I wanted it to do, and then some (asthma-related hospital stays, hunkering down from a tornado, that sort of thing). I finished too fast and had to go back and reread portions to soak up all the love. Do you know how rare legit perfect relationships are in YA fiction? Hint, they are rare.

85. The Lit Report - Sarah Harvey. 197 pg/2008. [12/10]
Don't judge a book by its super-attractive cover. Started out with promise and an interesting use of literary quotes, devolved halfway through and then flamed out.

86. Lost - Jacqueline Davies. 292 pg/2009. [12/10]
Things that were brilliant: a mystery (a true historical mystery I didn't even know about), a reminder that the historical novels I deign to read are always much more interesting than assumed (Triangle Shirtwaist Factory -- but so subtly that it took me by surprise), a teenager with a sweet 6-year-gap love interest, a solid friendship (with a 20-something character! RARE in YA), and artistic design -- besides the brilliantly bright colors of the jacket/cover/endpages, the flashback half of the story is written on gray pages patterned to look like cracked old apartment walls. I've never loved flashbacks so much.

87. Pretty Face - Mary Hogan. 213 pg/2009. [12/11]
I like Italy less than ever before, reading about the food grosses me out, this girl did not make good choices re: boys, and my primary feeling right now is how grateful I am not to be stuck in weirdo Italy for weeks without a computer.

88. Tell Me Where It Hurts [NF] - Dr. Nick Trout. 286 pg/2008. [12/11]
"A day of humor, healing and hope in my life as an animal surgeon." A little disjointed with its rambling digressions, but quite irresistible and fascinating -- like a super great episode of Grey's Anatomy with pets instead of relationship drama.

89. How to Say Goodbye in Robot - Natalie Standiford. 276 pg/2009. [12/12]
Endorsed by Libba Bray and Rachel Cohn with good cause. I only picked it out because of the art design -- neat font, vivid pink cover, page numbers and section divider pages, brief script format sections with names in the same pink -- but the quirky story of friendship within lived up to the promise.

90. Living On Impulse - Cara Haycak. 292 pg/2009. [12/12]
Eh. Took me way too long to connect the dots that "girl working in a college entomology lab for keeps-to-himself scientist, with cute student worker nearby" should = AU Sara, Grissom and Greg if I wanted it to be interesting.

91. On Autumn Trails - Emma-Lindsay Squier. 239 pg/1922. [12/13]
I could almost hear the author's voice personally regaling me with tales of Canadian wildlife encounters or animal stars of the (silent) film industry. Magic.

92. My Boyfriends' Dogs - Dandi Daley Mackall. 256 pg/2010. [12/16]
I think the author wanted to write about dogs more than she actually wrote about them. (edit: no way, this is the same author who wrote the Winnie the Horse Gentler books? But I liked those!)

93. Little Blog on the Prairie -- Cathleen Davitt Bell. 276 pg/2010. [12/17]
That camp sounds insane and extreme, but cute book. Can I label it an instant juvenile classic without actually making it one of my personal highlights? No? Fine.

94. For Keeps - Natasha Friend. 267 pg/2010. [12/17]
Stupid teen hookups distracted from the long-lost-father-finding plot.

95. L.A. Candy - Lauren Conrad. 326 pg/2009. [12/18]
*reads ending* The hell, there's more of these? Who could possibly read more of this? It's a novelty item just like "The Carrie Diaries," and it was fun, except with my non-existent knowledge of MTV I had to evaluate the book on its own merit. I liked Jane and always give props for having YA novels feature people past high school, but it was so exhausting the way the narration would jump from one perspective to another without warning. Fine for a speed read, but L.A. is a setting too bland to hold my interest.

96. Running For My Life - Ann Gonzalez. 235 pg/2009. [12/19]
I didn't connect with it at all, just felt like a detached observer.

97. Aunt Jane McPhipps And Her Baby Blue Chips - Frances V. Rummell. 210 pg/1960. [12/20]
Oh, that was some marvelous, whimsical writing. Like, I don't know, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for grownups, except instead of magic it was about a widow investing in the stock market for the first time and being such a hoot that you completely forget what a dry and boring subject the stock market ought to be. And the illustrations were wonderful.

98. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour - Morgan Matson. 343 pg/2010. [12/21]
Ignore the stupid title. Despite some elements I did not care for (damn it! so close to perfect!), this was everything I've ever needed to take a vicarious road trip across the United States. Complete with brilliant scrapbook-like pages every few chapters featuring doodle-filled playlists, photos, diner receipts, and a host of other mementos. *starry-eyed joy*

99. Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic - Suzanne Weyn. 330 pg/2009. [12/21]
This is a lying title that lies. Once they actually get ON the Titanic (200 pages of backstory later) it's almost interesting, but very little lives up to the chilling cover. Mostly an irksome and tedious blend of sci-fi and supernatural posing against a historical backdrop.

100. A Dog Named Christmas - Greg Kincaid. 160 pg/2008. [12/22]
Turns out Hallmark changed very little, except to switch the color of the Lab and add more Vietnam flashbacks, so: HEARTWARMING PERFECTION.

101. Dogsled Danger - West Lathrop. 247 pg/1956. [12/24]
Woo, that just jumped right into the action and never quit. Another great Alaskan adventure starring a boy and his dog. Jet's loyalty reminds me of Kym.

102. Red Leaves - Thomas H. Cook. 289 pg/2005. [12/28]
Misplaced in the YA section and clearly waiting for me, this was a surprisingly compelling tale of intrigue.

103. I Am Apache - Tanya Landman. 305 pg/2008. [12/29]
Been a while since I found a good Native American story. This one had bonus age mismatched/widower/mentor shippin' going for it, which I of course zeroed in on immediately, and was pleased as punch to see pay off in the end.

104. By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead - Julie Ann Peters. 200 pg/2010. [12/29]
Haha, how was this anything other than a trigger book? (liked it, though)

105. This World We Live In - Susan Beth Pfeffer. 239 pg/2010. [12/30]
Damn it! I thought this was the sequel, and didn't realize it was actually the third one until I finished reading. It was also not terribly interesting, thanks to the chemistry-free relationships that cropped up, so I guess it's not a big loss.
 
106. Summers with the Bears: Six Seasons in the North Woods [NF] - Jack Decklund. 179 pg/1999. [12/30]
AMAZING TIMES. I'll be over here, marveling with dropped jaw at Little Bit.

107. Scent of the Missing: Love &  Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog [NF] - Susannah Charleson.  288 pg/2010. [12/31]
I guess search and rescue just isn't that fascinating of a topic for me. Felt very dry.
---------
IN SUM: 107 books, bringing us nicely in sight of last year, with 95 of them covered in the last 4.5 months (including a record-breaking 33 in December alone), as I abruptly kicked myself into gear, desperate to make the arbitrary minimum after all. Those were some amazing reading feats right there. I'm now convinced I can do anything.

Statistics: 63% juvenile/YA (record low!), 21% nonfiction/memoir (I swear, every single week I visit the library, something new pops up in the pet section), and a whopping 16% consisted of general fiction this year (record high, again!). But if the categories have diversified, the gulf between male and female authors has only widened. It's now a 1 : 4 ratio.

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