Welcome to the 7th year of media-list-keeping on LJ! Will this be the year I don't exceed the post limit? I BET NOT. [edit: SO CLOSE. But exceeded on December 26th. Movies are now found here.]
Anyway: Bold means I absolutely loved it, italic means I greatly enjoyed and would recommend it, plain text indicates a wide range from average to mediocre, and
strikethrough is what I want to punch. * = a reread. I also maintain a Goodreads account and usually have longer reviews there. Friend me!
[ETA: The original post went kablooey and either disappeared entirely or had its content erased WAY TOO MANY TIMES. Gettin' real tired of your ----, LJ.]
1. Life Among the Savages [NF] - Shirley Jackson. 241 pg/1953. [1/2]
Some of her sentences ran overly long, and it wasn't particularly well structured in terms of rising action or even organized vignettes, but she painted such a charming, cheerful, fairly timeless picture of a busy home full of children!
2. No Safety in Numbers - Dayna Lorentz. 264 pg/2012. [1/2]
NO, YOU CAN'T JUST STOP THERE. I need more information! Before I'm too afraid to ever set foot in a mall again!
3. Irises - Francisco X. Stork. 288 pg/2012. [1/10]
Came for the unique premise, was turned off by something about the girls being Hispanic consequently making them seem like stereotypical children of immigrants, rather than being able to connect to the story like something I might experience.
* 4. Sasha, My Friend - Barbara Corcoran. 203 pg/1969. [1/12]
I'd repressed that ending from memory, but despite that, incredible remote-wilderness setting and cozy, familiar characters in a combo pet wolf/teen girl story.
5. Fire Season - David Weber/Jane Lindskold. 287 pg/2012. [1/12]
My fervor has unsurprisingly cooled, maybe because I was waiting to be done with Anders and move on to Karl, or maybe because there wasn't enough from Lionheart's POV, but I liked encountering a few more treecats and was interested to the end.
6. XVI - Julia Karr. 325 pg/2011. [1/13]
Finally succumbed to the over-hype. I don't think I've ever seen "sex" written that many times (albeit in non-explicit context) in one book, and I wish the author wasn't trying so hard to Make A Statement About Modern Society, but the mystery and action-adventure aspect held my interest.
7. Free to a Good Home - Eve Marie Mont. 2010. [1/13]
A dog-inclusive love story for grown-ups that I love - or rather, ANOTHER one! She is basically me but with a dream job.
8. See You At Harry's - Jo Knowles. 310 pg/2012. [1/14]
Would have been better if baby Charlie weren't so gross and obnoxious that I was excited for him to die.
* 9. Wolf at the Door - Barbara Corcoran. 194 pg/1993. [1/16]
A wonderful, heartwarming story featuring one version of my dream life, a/k/a moving to a rural area and becoming the owner of five rescued pet wolves thanks to my awesome mom.
10. The Dog with Golden Eyes - Frances Wilbur. 193 pg/1998. [1/16]
I am on a wolf book kick, don't try and stop me. I feel like I've read this before but nothing was familiar; anyway, exceptional children's book (prizewinning for a reason) about making friends with a stray socialized wolf while emphasizing why they're not built to be suburban indoor pets.
11. One For the Murphys - Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 224 pg/2012. [1/16]
ALL THE BOOKS ARE GLORIOUS, OKAY? I knew this should have won its Goodreads award as soon as I laid eyes on the summary, and I was so right. How can you possibly compete with the most sympathetic foster child ever placed in the most idyllic temporary foster home ever?
12. Another Kind of Cowboy - Susan Juby. 352 pg/2007. [1/17]
Cleo was a bit of a brat, but I loved Alex, the high level of focus on horses and detail of riding lessons (a/k/a GREAT YA horse book), and the thoughtful and nuanced handling of his coming out - he never lies to himself and he doesn't make a big production out of it, either. Fave character of 2013??
13. A Dog's Way Home - Bobby Pyron. 336 pg/2011. [1/17]
Like a junior Lassie Come Home, with a wonderful Sheltie at the center (whom people kept inexplicably mistaking for a fox...?), and unfortunately mostly unlikable people in the human-centric chapters.
14. Raising Demons [NF] - Shirley Jackson. 310 pg/1953. [1/20]
Despite the same problems as the first book, that was even more fun to read since the children were older - the perfect nostalgic depiction of a (chaotic) storybook 1940s/50s household filled to the brim with children, pets, and a put-upon husband.
15. Murder for Choir (Glee Club Mystery #1) - Joelle Charonneau. 294 pg/2012. [1/20]
Slow start and not enough involvement with the glee club setting, but it was a fun mystery once I got 75 or so pages in. Not sure if I'd read another, but I love the inclusion of taxidermied dogs.
* 16. Pride of the Peacock - Stephanie S. Tolan. 185 pg/1986. [1/25]
Originally given 3.5 stars, it somehow stuck with me, and when I read it again I was so blown away by the solidity of the story, the symbolism and deeper messages about facing your fears/appreciating life, and just plain beautiful writing I read it twice to fully savor it. I WANT MY OWN COPY.
17. How It Ends - Laura Wiess. 344 pg/2009. [2/2]
I was crying from cover and cover, full-blown sobbing at the end, and am still haunted and unsettled. I didn't like the teen character or the pointed political jab at the end, but that was the most moving, tumultuous, emotional and emotionally devastating journey I have been taken on by a book in a long time. May have to overlook its negatives just for Helen's half. [edit: no. but still, everyone read it.]
18. A Filly For Melinda - Doris Gates. 170 pg/1984. [2/2]
Kinda wish I hadn't learned this sequel existed. I still love the writing style and the setting, but there was more family than horse stuff, and it was really stupid stuff. Like a 12-year-old selling one of her horses to pay for an extension to the house solely because her father would be too humiliated to accept the money from his mother-in-law instead.
*19. Life in the Fat Lane - Cherie Bennett. 272 pg/1998. [2/2]
Great work capturing exactly how it feels when you go from being thin and gorgeous to helplessly overweight, barely understanding how you got here. Having a mysterious disease in which you literally cannot stop gaining adds an extra unnerving layer (no pun intended).
20. A Question of Trust - Marion Dane Bauer. 120 pg/1994. [2/3]
Very well written, but also very difficult to read with the boys' rampant ignorance leading to intentional and unintentional cruelty.
* 21. When The Dolls Woke - Marjorie Filley Stevens. 136 pg/1985. [2/3]
Wish fulfillment at its finest: girl acquires an antique dollhouse passed down through generations, containing a hidden treasure, and full of dolls who move about when no one's looking and remember the house's whole history.
*22. With A High Heart - Adele de Leeuw. 207 pg/1945. [2/14]
Heartwarming story of a library student interning for the summer at a tiny small-town library in wartime, taking over the Bookmobile route and meeting a wonderful cast of characters on her circuit as books draw them together and connect them to the world. Dream job fantasy ahoy!
23. The Giver - Lynn Hall. 119 pg/1985. [2/15]
Welcome to the perfect student/teacher story: the kind where nothing unseemly happens even though Feelings are involved on both sides!
24. Beautiful Lies - Jessica Warman. 422/2012. [2/15]
Oh good, there's my thriller for the year. The beginning was intriguing and the last 100 pages revved up in intensity fast, but in the middle I just wanted to throttle Alice for being such an obnoxious brat. Plus the more we learned of her sister, the less I liked her enabling.
*25. Ghost Cat - Beverly Butler. 189 pg/1984. [2/17]
Pretty much the perfect ghost story, with a rural Wisconsin setting, an abandoned house, a genuine ghost, a murder? mystery, and some old family secrets tying it all together.
26. Saving June - Hannah Harrington. 322 pg/2011. [2/17]
Felt like a quality story with a well sewn together plot, worth a read even though I didn't much like any of the characters. But it didn't stick with me.
*27. The Stillmeadow Road [NF] - Gladys Bagg Taber. 456 pg (large type)/1962. [2/23]
Very slow, but the perfect book to read bits and pieces of when you want to vicariously escape to the quiet countryside. She talks about rural community, delicious recipes, her dogs and occasionally cats, the seasons, and many things associated with the care and upkeep of an old house and its grounds.
28. The Zoo That Never Was [NF] - R.D. Lawrence. 308 pg/1981. [2/24]
Canadian wildlife biologist and his wife rescuing and rehabilitating orphan/injured woodland creatures. One of the best I've ever read in the genre; every animal has a name and a personality, and he seems to truly connect with nature. Looking forward to more from him.
29. Babylon's Ark [NF] - Lawrence Anthony w/ Graham Spence. 248 pg/2007. [2/27]
Saving the remnants of the Baghdad Zoo. This is how you make war real and horrible to me. Also, wtf is wrong with these looters.
*30. Runaway - Wendelin Van Draanen. 250 pg/2006. [3/2]
Yep. Still the best story of a homeless runaway kid I've ever read. The poems bore me, but Holly has limitless and ingenious ways of surviving on the streets, and it's all wrapped up in the most heartwarming way.
31. Midnight in the Dollhouse - Marjorie Filley Stover. 159 pg/1990. [3/2]
The prequel isn't quite as exciting as the first book, but it's really fun to see how the dollhouse and its inhabitants came together. And it still involves finding hidden treasure!
32. Benno's Bear - N.F. Zucker. 244 pg/2001. [3/5]
A sweet little story about a nice little boy being lifted into better life circumstances, although not without the heartbreaking loss of his one true companion, a tame bear.
*33. Sugar Isn't Everything - Willow Roberts Davis. 190 pg/1987. [3/10]
In elementary school, I read it because the librarian recommended it to someone in my class who'd just been diagnosed with diabetes, but I never knew it was designed as a how-to "support guide in novel form"! It does an awesome job of discreetly tucking the information into what is really a very good little story.
34. Supergirl Mixtapes - Megan Brothers. [3/11]
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn't this: a nostalgic look at New York in the nineties, an older soundtrack, an isolated teen with a self-injury-branded-as-suicide-attempt past that doesn't really have an impact on her present state of mind, a semi-estranged mother who acts like a teen but who isn't a bad character, and said mother's 22-year-old boyfriend, which is exactly as much fun as you think it is. I really liked the main character and her whole outlook on family and the world, and just plain loved the backdrop.
35. Songmaster - Orson Scott. 377 pg/1994. [3/11]
Well. That will teach me to Blaine/Kurt/Rachel (it's a verb) books before I know how they end. Everything was dull and confusing except when Josif was interacting with Kyaren or Ansset. Those parts were GREAT! It just ended super poorly for my favorite of the trio. -.-
36. Almost Home - Joan Bauer. 240 pg/2012. [3/16]
I quickly got bored by the poems and letters, but the puppy was adorable, and it was nice to see a pleasant foster child get matched up with pleasant foster parents.
37. Band Geek Love - Josie Bloss. 257 pg/2008. [3/23]
Main character was kind of a self-centered brat, and the romance was fairly 3-star ordinary...but she was OBSESSED WITH BAND and her love interest was very sweet so aslkdafhskldhfaksjdf perfect setting, basically. [PSA: Do not read the sequel. It's so horrible I refused to finish.]
38. Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe - Shelley Corielle. 299 pg/2012. [3/23]
More genuine heart and sincerity than I expected, lots of love for student radio stations and another heartwarming love interest.
I hate everyone in this book so much. You should never want to say that about a children's novel, but between the rednecks, the 12-year-old boy obsessing about a seductive poster, and his twin sister spouting ignorant, sexist missionary drivel before folding like a washcloth at the slightest challenge to her assumptions and managing to be annoying both ways...
40. Lovely, Dark and Deep - Amy McNamara. 342 pg/2012. [3/28]
Beautiful, poetic, moving novel about grief and the struggle to simply exist post-loss, especially when you were in the middle of trying to escape from what you lost before it happened. Loved the hidden-away setting and the eccentric but intriguing community of artists, but it was the cautiously spun new love story for which I fell head over heels. Probably on account of the hurt/comfort aspect with him having MS (although it works both ways, with him being instantly drawn to what he recognizes of himself in her raw and vulnerable side) and them finding an awful lot of reasons to curl up and fall asleep together in the most innocent sense.
41. Little Boy Blue [NF] - Kim Kavin. 306 pg/2012. [3/28]
If you've ever wanted to know more about those groups who pull dogs on "death row" and transport them to foster homes across state lines, like why they exist and can't just rehome local dogs, this tells you everything. I just wish the star of the story had been a cuter mutt. In other news, gas chambers are way more horrible than I thought and why the actual hell do they still exist.
42. Wildthorn - Jane Eagland. 350 pg/2009. [3/29]
Pop quiz! What is the scariest thing about being a woman in the 19th century? Your relatives' frightening ability to lock you away in an insane asylum with or without cause, where you will have zero protections, legal recourse, or even contact with the outside world.
43. Giant George: Life With the World's Biggest Dog [NF] - Dave Nasser with Lynne Barrett-Lee. 255 pg/2011. [3/29]
Aw, giant doggy! Living a cute, typical doggy life - with a few special accommodations, like his own queen-size mattress to sleep on.
44. Notes From An Accidental Band Geek - Erion Dionne. 280 pg/2011. [3/31]
Forget every positive thing I said about #37. THIS is the band-girl-loving story I am looking for, and so what if the main character's only 13? She's less like me, but otherwise it just means it's cuter and more positive overall. I started out giving serious side-eye to these marching band idiots who act like a fratty sports team, but by the end, I was swept away with love for the chummy band-ness of it all.
45. Enslaved By Ducks [NF] - Bob Tarte. 308 pg/2003. [4/4]
I've been wanting to read his most recent book, but decided I should start in order. I'm pleased to report that despite my general disinterest in non-chicken birds as pets, I loved the writing style and the way his wife got him to keep collecting pets hand over fist until there were 20+ on their property. (They seemed able to care for them, so why not?) That's the kind of husband I need!
46. I Swear - Lane Davis. 279 pg/2012. [4/14]
I was prepared to strongly side-eye a book with a "bullying made her kill herself so those people should be prosecuted for killing her" hook, but I actually rather enjoyed seeing other people's reactions to the fallout. Especially Jake, he was delightful.
47. Keeping The Moon - Sarah Dessen. 228 pg/1999. [4/14]
Another strong summer book - I loved her job and the older girls as her mentors.
48. Yellow Eyes - Rutherford G. Montgomery. 243 pg/1937. [4/14]
Fantastic old-timey wildlife novel about a cougar, albeit extremely violent.
49. Major Crush - Jennifer Echols. 287 pg/2006. [4/15]
Flufftastic, dumb, cheesy romance fluff that is perfect if you're in the mood for that. Mostly I was interested in Mr. Rush the band director, though.
50. Smile for the Camera [NF] - Kelle James. [4/21]
Engaging, fast read that was basically a YA novel shelved in the memoir section. Has some dark material but is never too explicit for me to handle.
51. Fancy White Trash - Marjetta Geerling. 257 pg/2008. [4/21]
Oh, man, that soap-opera-in-real-life family was FUN! And her gay bff fit right into my Kurt mold instead of annoying me for not fitting into a boyfriend role, so big fancy claps all around.
52. Raccoons Are The Brightest People [NF] - Sterling North. [4/27]
SO ADORABLE. Just - cute wild animals everywhere. Plus a chapter for their pet collie descended from the Sunnybank line.
53. Fowl Weather [NF] - Bob Tarte. 305 pg/2007. [4/27]
Accurate title is accurate. Still some cute animals mentioned (when they're not dying), but mostly it's about his spiraling depression and family problems. -.-
54. You Are My Only - Beth Kephart. 256 pg/2011. [4/28]
Meanders along until the events suggested in the summary happen, then ends. Very dull.
55. Kitty Cornered [NF] - Bob Tarte. 304 pg/2012. [4/28]
Cute stories of incorrigible kitties, who have distinctive personalities despite being mostly of the non-lovable variety of housecat.
56. Sofi Mendoza's Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico - 276 pg/2007. [4/28]
Could also be published in informative flyer form as "DO NOT EVER SET IN FOOT IN MEXICO IF YOU CAN POSSIBLY HELP IT."
57. A World Away - Nancy Grossman. 396 pg/2012. [5/1]
Surprisingly compelling story of an Amish girl's Rumspringa - that's a story that has been told a thousand times, but never with characters to whom I felt so connected. I loved her nannying job and often felt like I was discovering the "English" world along with her. Both her employers and her new love interest were very sweet, as were the things we gradually learned about her family. It might have actually ended up perfect if not for the inevitable Drunk Teenager scene that made me want to slap all the idiots involved (her less so than the others; she at least has the excuse of being sheltered and vaguely urged to "try anything once" before leaving).
58. Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping [NF] - Judith Levine. 264 pg/2006. [5/5]
Set in 2004, really cool concept that's fascinating to read about at first, but seems to lose its focus by late spring and becomes much less personal in favor of an increasingly dull slog through politics, until by last quarter she's just a shrill liberal harpy shrieking about Bush.
59. Body of Water - Sarah Dooley. 336 pg/2011. [5/12]
So many pages for so much nothing.
60. Bass Ackwards and Belly Up - Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain. 384 pg/2006. [5/13]
I despise that there are two random stupid hookups in this book, but at the same time, I LOVE EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT IT. Perfect characters, amazing adventures, as many different varieties of post-graduation paths as possible; the sort of story that from page 1, you are breathless and excited to savor. I CANNOT WAIT to dive into Part II.
61. Made From Scratch: Discovering the Simple Pleasures of a Handmade Life [NF] - Jenna Woginrich. 167 pg/2008. [5/19]
Not an in-depth guide by any means but a sweet little overview, bite-sized introductions to various things you can make, grow, do or raise at home, told in conversational style. My favorite chapters discussed egg chickens and gardening, along with her great tips on acquiring the most useful and durable kitchen tools and hand-powered appliances from antique stores. I really enjoyed reading it as a way to escape into a fantasy life for a couple of hours.
62. Catherine - April Lindner. 308 pg/2013. [5/20]
A modern retelling of Wuthering Heights (a story I once loved but only vaguely recall), it's fast-paced and full of layered characters. I loved both mother and daughter's lives (two YA novels for the price of one!), and the disappearance of her mother was the most excited I have ever been to solve a mystery.
63. Footfree and Fancyloose - Elizabeth Craft & Sarah Fain. 419 pg/2009. [5/21]
I was rather hoping we'd be over the hookups phase, but instead they seem to have revved it up (less casual, but more frequent). That is not what I want from my fiction, especially since the 2 romances I most wanted to see pay off never went anywhere. The girls also seemed to grow more apart from each other, which I felt like the first book was so good about showing us was not happening, and more self centered. The only story I really enjoyed was Kate and her humanitarian aid work in Ethiopia, which is not a thing I ever expected to say about a book.
64. On The Island - Tracey Garvis Graves. 320 pg/2012. [5/22]
THIS IS THE HAPPIEST A ROMANCE HAS EVER MADE ME. You've got a plane crash, survival on a deserted island, a fantastic love story, and plenty of post-rescue recovery time to boot.
65. Two-Way Street - Lauren Barnholdt. 288 pg/2007. [5/22]
Road-trippin' with the ex (who seems pretty darn dumb and unappealing), an interesting idea hampered by its flashback format to explain why they broke up. Personally, I couldn't stand the present-day chapters so I spoiled myself right off the bat, and that made it easier to read.
66. The Luck Of Texas McCoy - Carolyn Meyer. 182 pg/1984. [5/30]
Just old enough to feel like it belongs to a different era, a heartwarming and fulfilling story of a teenager taking the solo reins on an inherited ranch and learning how to support herself.
67. Blind Spot - Laura Ellen. 336 pg/2012. [5/31]
Moderately paced with an intriguing mystery element, though mostly I was fixated on how it was even possible for a teacher to be that unrelentingly cruel and blatantly, publicly unfair without getting called on it.
68. Radiate - Marley Gibson. 395 pg/2012. [6/8]
An important-addition-to-the-genre book about a girl being diagnosed with a cancerous leg tumor, giving up her summer to undergo treatment, and finding a way to bounce back her senior year. It was a little heavy-handed on Christian themes at times, and at other times the writing felt too simplistic, the narrator a little one-dimensional. But as far as offering an introductory overview to treatments and how one might cope with such a diagnosis, building up a solid world & cast of supporting characters, it's golden.
69. This Is Not A Drill - Beck McDowell. 216 pg/2012. [6/8]
Couldn't bring myself to focus all that much on the boy's perspective, but I thought this offered a very good vicarious walk-through of a day trapped at gunpoint with little kids in an elementary school classroom.
70. Jane - April Lindner. 373 pg/2010. [6/19]
If we could skip over the creepy part where he admits his feelings by seducing her - BECAUSE THAT DOESN'T SEEM SUSPECT AT ALL - I actually liked that more than her other book, because Jane is an easier character to identify with and I adore her story. Alas, that bit made it near impossible to believe in the romance vs. employer-taking-advantage aspect, even if he still proposes right afterward and all that jazz.
71. Fingerprints of You - Kristen-Paige Madonia. 272 pg/2012. [7/2]
Lemon starts out as a dumb/poor/pregnant stereotype, but the writing is richly detailed from page one, and it slowly develops into a rich tapestry of unique characters and a strong story about family connections, really taking off when you reach the vibrant backdrop of San Francisco.
72. Winter Longing - Tricia Mills. 266 pg/2010. [7/6]
Sweet story (better than her last), and both Spencer and Jesse were obviously great guys + I loved the Alaskan setting, but it was still weird for her to have all this ~instant shocky chemistry~ with the latter, even if that was the point. Still, a pretty meat-and-potatoes staple as teen romance goes.
73. Bossypants [NF] - Tina Fey. 2011. [7/13]
Laughed SO HARD, and frequently aloud. Unlike Mindy Kaling, she veers a bit hard to the "angry feminist" left, and there were times where I'd side eye in boredom and remember why I didn't used to like her very much, but then she would shake it off with some genuinely funny line and I'd crack up again and forget about it. 90% humor and 10% feminist ranting, I'd say.
74. Babe in Boyland - Jody Gerhman. 292 pg/2011. [7/14]
Standard (but entertaining) "dressing up like a guy to see how guys behave" comedy.
75. Algonquin: The Story of a Great Dog - Dion Henderson. 152 pg/1953. [7/17]
Masterfully written, but DARK. SO DARK. At the beginning, at the end, and at most points along the way (these points mostly involve dogs dying violently). It's certainly a "dog story" in the strictest sense, but there's so much commentary on loss, and changing times, and the mysteries of growing up beyond boyhood before you reach manhood.
76. Hold The Rein Free - Judy Van Der Veer. 253 pg/1966. [7/17]
SHAKE OFF THE DARK AND UGLY. Return to a bright and vibrant child's world, one set on a ranch where a pair of enterprising scamps conspire to hide a pregnant filly and her subsequent foal so the owner won't shoot the latter for being a half breed scrub. Full of Western adventure and idyllic golden times, it's pure wish fulfillment for all ages.
77. Beem - Gavriil Troepol'skii. 200 pg/1971. [7/17]
I am worn out from the emotional roller coaster, but that was about the most amazing loyal-dog story I have ever read.
78. Never Enough - Denise Jaden. 378 pg/2012. [7/19]
Amazing novel about an anorexic sister. Sweet but slightly frustrating in the slow pace of her pending relationship with her new best friend, and lost an entire star when she randomly let her sister's ex have sex with her because apparently that's the ultimate goal of a 5-year crush, hooking up once to go all the way.
79. Butterflies - Susanne Gervay. 250 pg/2011. [7/24]
Boring. The writing style didn't appeal to me at all and it felt like the characters were held at arm's length, just plodding along with nothing happening.
80. Boy Heaven - Laura Kasischke. 275 pg/2006. [7/26]
The cover is wonderful at depicting what the story is on the surface: candy-bright summer fun, carefree, irresponsible teenagers sneaking out of camp for a few hours. It makes you forget the prologue, which tells you this book is a scary story told around campfires - until the boys they flashed on the road start stalking them, and it escalates into an extremely dark and unnerving ending.
81. Especially Dogs...Especially at Stillmeadow [NF] - Gladys Taber. 191 pg/1968. [7/28]
Absolutely wonderful, vibrant vignettes about her dogs and life with dogs in the countryside. They all have such wonderful personalities; I wish I could meet them all. And yet, in a sense, I have. This is only the 2nd book of hers I've read, but I feel like it'll probably stay my favorite.
82. Especially Spaniels [NF] - Gladys Taber. 174 pg/1945. [8/12]
A strange mixture of dog care guide and personal reflection quite unlike anything I've ever encountered, much like your grandmother saying, "Hey, sit down while I tell you how I raised my dogs." Lots of cute photos and anecdotes about my favorite spaniels, though.
83. Astor Place Vintage - Stephanie Lehmann. 396 pg/2013. [8/14]
Amazing blend of historical fiction & present-day story of a vintage clothing store owner reading a century-old diary, with a neat dash of supernatural on the side.
84. Amber, A Very Personal Cat [NF] - Gladys Taber. 1970. [8/18]
Amber is such a delightful young kitten! And somehow I feel like I really got to know the author better than usual, too. I want her to be my adopted grandmother.
85. Conversations With Amber [NF] - Gladys Taber. 1978. [8/25]
Only Gladys Taber could get away with telling you she literally talks to her cat, and the cat talks back, and have people go "yes good very good." But I think I liked this one even more?
86. The Tale of Two Horses - A.F. Tschiffely. 220 pg/1935. [8/28]
While very definitely aimed at children, complete with occasionally distracting passages that stop to explain potentially unfamiliar words or concepts, this was a vivid adventure and certainly the most fun perspective from which to read the journey.
87. The Pregnancy Project [NF] - Gaby Rodriguez w/ Jenna Glatzer. 218 pg/2012. [9/11]
Definitely not seeing why this blew up into a national news story, and I still see no reason not to stereotype pregnant teens. But it sounds like a fun little senior project.
88. Dear Julia - Amy Bronwen Zenser. 336 pg/2008. [9/15]
I tried to like it for Lucida Sans, who reminded me of Sue Heck, but the main character was so dull - I thought of her as a mute lump of a robot drifting through the background of scenes.
89. Frozen - Mary Casanova. 264 pg/2012. [9/24]
This review says it perfectly ("American Girl-style novel refracted through less kid-friendly experiences"). Nothing really amazed me outright, but it was quality. I enjoyed the setting and characters, and the last 100 pages of mystery-resolution were mesmerizing.
90. Tschiffely's Ride: 10,000 Miles in the Saddle from Southern Cross to Pole Star [NF] - A.F. Tschiffely. 328 pg/1933. [10/7]
The grown-up version of #86, this is a simply amazing travelogue, rich with details from a rarely-described setting, and as much great focus on his two equine companions as the different people and cultures he encountered. I was so fully immersed in 1920s South/Central America that every time I pulled my head out of the pages, it was like I was lost in a fog.
91. Lynn Hall's Dog Stories - Lynn Hall. 155 pg/1972. [10/8]
Six true (and frequently ultra-depressing) stories of dogs she has known and loved.
92. Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell. 438 pg/2013. [10/24]
The novel of our generation.
93. Never Eighteen - Megan Bostic. 200 pg/2012. [10/25]
A quiet, contemplative, episodic story of a book that takes place largely over the course of a weekend as a dying boy visits places and people that were either important to him or that he feels he needs to face before it's too late.
94. Deadly Heat - "Richard Castle." 291 pg/2013. [11/17]
Now with 200% more spy content! Also a rather shocking loss of a recurring character, which I found delightful in both reveal and execution. Slower than the last one and nearly enough relationship content (I guess the show stole it all. Canon five! *holds up palm*), but once the two cases start to dovetail the interest ramps up fast.
95. How It's Done - Christine Kole MacLean. 324 pg/2006. [11/17]
The cautionary tale version of age-mismatched student/teacher relationships, rather than the true love kind, which is super rude considering she's 18 and he's not even teaching at her school. Alas, it's not even really about the age difference in the end; Michael is just a manipulative jerk.
96. See What I See - Gloria Whelan. 199 pg/2011. [11/17]
A nice little story highlighting a pleasant pocket of Detroit and an estranged father/daughter connection, with great descriptions for those of you who like paintings.
97. Viola in Reel Life - Adriana Trigiani. /2009. [11/23]
A bit young (the main character is just 14 when it begins), but a tidy little novel about boarding school and friendship, complete with a ghost story and some nice passages for those of you who like the art of making films.
98. Winter's Bone - Daniel Woodrell. 193 pg/2006. [11/23]
I wanted to see the movie, but did not want to see Lawrence skinning a real squirrel, so this was my compromise. Bleak, but good descriptive writing. I pretended I was reading it for a class, and it was certainly manageable. If engaged in a discussion, I would be able to follow along and maybe even talk about the themes of
99. A Vintage Affair - Isabel Wolff. 342 pg/2009. [11/24]
Recommended to me because of and in place of #83, this is very similar, but set in England and told from only one POV. Its main character is stronger, its relationship a bit weaker (as dumb as 83's adulterous affair was, I kind of preferred it to being set up with two equally solid love interests and waiting for the inevitable choice), and the connection to the past equally captivating, but its luxurious descriptions of dresses and the day-to-day of running the shop are second to none. Note to self: MUST VISIT REAL VINTAGE CLOTHING SHOP SOON.
100. The Freedom Maze - Delia Sherman. 267 pg/2011. [11/24]
A historical novel within a historical novel, time travel created by a twist of magic as a girl wishes she could have "an adventure" like the ones in her favorite books. It drops her right into 1860 where her white but deeply tanned self is taken for a mixed-race slave, and allows us to experience the injustice of slavery even on a "nicer" plantation. Richly detailed and very satisfying, genuinely suitable for ages 9 to adult.
101. Come Back, Como [NF] - Steven Winn. [11/26]
The cute cover is the best part. No one (including the dog) is very likeable, and nothing very profound happens.
102. Sticks and Stones - Lynn Hall. 220 pg/1972. [11/27]
Did not get the Vintage Klaine story I thought I might out of it, but I got my other favorite trope -- straight + gay (well, more like hippie pan) best friendship -- plus a pretty startling look at just how damaging being gay, or even suspected of it, could be just a few decades ago in a small midwestern town.
103. Viola in the Spotlight - Adriana Trigiani. 280 pg/2011. [11/27]
Neither better nor worse than its predecessor, though it loses the unique backdrop to become a more ordinary girl-in-New-York-City tale, and has slightly greater focus on stage work than film technique. Easily read as a standalone, but it's a solid sequel, which I find to be rare in YA.
104. The Siege of Silent Henry - Lynn Hall. 142 pg/1972. [11/28]
OOH LOOK the small town from book 102 is back along with several minor characters; I did not expect that! But unclear if it's set prior to, concurrently, or after that one, as neither Ward nor Tom Naylor are mentioned. Anyway...Robert Short is a truly loathsome little toad at the beginning, but I promise, he is reformed by the end. The ending is a bit abrupt and unsatisfying, but the rest is exactly what the jacket promises.
105. Hound-Dog Man - Fred Gipson. 247 pg/1947. [11/28]
Quite the roughneck dialect, full of terms like "woman-cooking" and a black dog named a word we don't use anymore. I cain't pin down what 'xactly it reminds me of, but suffice to say there's a lot of hunting, fighting, hound dogs, sanitized cussin', grubby men without jobs, and all the other ingredients needed to make a boys' adventure story set in the early part of the 20th century in a less-than-settled area.
106. Office Girl - Joe Meno. 293 pg/2012. [11/28]
So much vulgarity I'd be ashamed if anyone I knew read the book after being aware I read it, and yet, the book fascinated me. It swept me into its world in a dream-like state, transported me to a just-barely-retro Chicago and an almost-romantic view of being a 20-something in crappy dead end jobs with no real idea of what you're doing, but at least doing it independently. Maybe it was because I read it on a road trip on a bleak November day through intriguing new places, so I was full of a sense of adventure. Whatever the reason, the story being arranged as little vignettes plus the fact that the book is compact and filled with interesting visual details like sketches and the occasional photo make it a physical piece of artistry, and ultimately made it a keeper.
107. American Idol: The Untold Story [NF] - Richard Rushfield. 267 pg/2011. [11/30]
Picked up at dollar store and surprisingly fun - since it only went through 2010, a/k/a "the last year I watched with any regularity," and focused more on the earlier years when I was more invested, it was like a highlight reel/nostalgia tour of all the things I loved about Idol, plus some interesting insider details. It started a little slow with the backstory, but I loved walking through each season and reviewing the most memorable contestants and twists. It's the only book I've ever read on Idol, and kind of feels like the only one I'll ever need to.
108. Riff, Remember - Lynn Hall. 107 pg/1973. [12/16]
Sweet but tragic story about the love of a dog for his boy. Riff, an exotic Borzoi, and Gordy, a teenager who prefers shooting wildlife with a camera over a gun, are both out of place in a rural hunting community full of sportsmen and field dogs. They are both taken care of and treated well, but there is a distinct shared Otherness about them that makes their bond so strong...and the twist that separates them so upsetting.
109. Snowman - Rutherford G. Montgomery. 131 pg/1962. [12/16]
I feel like this is probably going to be the rarest book I ever read in my life, so I'm so happy I finally got my hands on a library loan. What a great way to tell this story* in fictionalized form - complete with photos - in tight, vivid writing focused entirely on the horse. (*see new nonfiction book The Eighty Dollar Champion)
110. Dog of the Bondi Castle - Lynn Hall. 124 pg/1979. [12/20]
Lol, it's like Riff, Remember 600 years earlier...or, an excellent (but still tragic) book, based on a medieval legend, about the loyalty of a wolfhound to his master. Set against a feudal background and with lively jousts and other squire/pending-knight activities.
111. The Shy Ones - Lynn Hall. 188 pg/1967. [12/23]
Absolutely wonderful story, with the dog based on one of Hall's own, full of teenage wish-fulfillment, dog show detail, and just a ton of 1960s small town sweetness.
112. Gently Touch the Milkweed - Lynn Hall. 160 pg/1970. [12/24]
A story of no particular consequence, just a very plain girl in a very plain homesteading town, set out on the prairie in the 19th century.
113. Just Between Us - J.H. Trumble. 297 pg/2013. [12/24]
I swore after her first book that I would never read the story of that pathetic, fairytale-ruining cockroach of a leech Luke. But after he didn't seem so bad on the fringes of her second, I agreed to evaluate the story on its own merit, and it was yet another pretty wonderful age-mismatched romance with a dash of hurt/comfort on the side, this time from an HIV diagnosis. Just wish she'd referenced that ruined fairytale less often.
114. The Lucy Variations - Sara Zarr. 304 pg/2012. [12/25]
Definitely her best book yet. I loved the main character, the details about piano, the relationships with her little brother and with the teachers in her life, but wish there had been less of the weird crushes on the latter. Or, well, the crushes were OK, it was just weird when one of them became semi-reciprocated.
115. The Secret of Stonehouse - Lynn Hall. 155 pg/1968. [12/26]
A mystery to rival Pony Hollow! Featuring: ponies & general horsing around, an abandoned estate complete with stable, sweet small Midwestern town stuff, and at the heart of it all, an old kidnapping/murder that may not be such ancient history after all.
116. Boy Toy - Barry Lyga. 410 pg/2007. [12/27]
Went looking for a story about a teen boy recovering from a statutory-rape student/teacher relationship (why? Glee is the answer when questions are wrong), picked this; it did its job very well. Could have gone for a less aggressive present-day love interest, though.
117. No Holly for Miss Quinn - Miss Read. 148 pg/1976. [12/28]
A very calm, quiet and comforting book about small English villages, the bonds of family, and a spinster aunt becoming an unlikely nanny and housekeeper overnight for a week around the holidays while her sister-in-law rests at the hospital.
118. Love is the Best Medicine [NF] - Dr. Nick Trout. 252 pg/2010. [12/29]
Nice but not super memorable story of two dogs that crossed a vet's operating table - one saved, the other not - and the impact the cases made on him.
119. The Little Kingdom - Hughie Call. 134 pg/1964. [12/29]
A book about loss, yet not terribly sad (of course, I'm not saying I didn't weep at the end). Full of great descriptions of the little girl's pets on the ranch, both wild and domestic,
120. No Small Thing - Natale Ghent. 232 pg/2003. [12/31]
Set in the 70s in Canada, sweet wish-fulfillment story about three children who get a free pony and do an ingenious job of finding the means to care for it despite their single mother's shoestring budget.