Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Annual Book Review

Be prepared to be disappointed.

I thought about my annual book review and even started to type up the list of the books and the stars, and then I thought, "Isn't all of this available on GoodReads already?"

And the thing is... it is.

I thought about any life-changing books I've read this past year, and - realizing I had to consult GoodReads to even remember what I read - decided there just weren't that many.

But then I remembered why I really blog.  Oh yeah.  For me.

So for me (since I'll likely never print my GoodReads list, and maybe my posterity might care what mediocre books I read), here's a super boring repost of the best and worst of 2011:

Left to Tell (Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocost) - Immaculee Ilibagiza
I love that Immaculee realizes that, although the background is her experience in the Rwandan Holocaust, the book she has authored is not a story of those events. Rather, this book is the story of her immovable faith in unbelievably trying situations. In every instance where she prayed, she also acted upon her faith. It was her actions - based on her faith - which ndnallowed her to survive. This would make a great book club book

The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson
This book was one of the best I've read in a genre I can't get enough of. The world Sanderson has created is not limited to just one system of government or philosophy. Instead, he uses many characters and their unique perspectives to flesh out the details of diverse religions, daily routines, and values systems. I lost myself completely, and I have a feeling this world will gnaw at me until I pick up the next book.

1984 - George Orwell
** spoiler alert ** It's really rare for me to start out loving a book and then end up monumentally disappointed, but that is precisely what happened here. I was hooked from the beginning, intrigued and dying to get deeper into the overall philosophy. I was intrigued by Julia and by who Winston became with her. I was so into the idea of The Brotherhood. And then Winston got "The Book," and everything came to a screeching halt. The ideas became wordy and oh-so-repetitive. But I was willing to wade through it to get to what I knew would be a dynamic ending. And then...

Let's just leave it at that I don't care how many people have to die or be brutally tortured to see that right wins. But I'm struggling with leaving a story knowing that good did not prevail.

Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton
When my husband asked me what this book was about I found it impossible to explain. "Well, it's about South Africa. But it really kind of isn't. It was about blacks and whites, I guess. No, not really that either. I guess it was more just about humanity. Common themes like love and forgiveness and responsibility and education and charity. I don't know. It was just about people. And about moments where they chose to do what was right even though it was hard and moments where they didn't choose to do what was right because it wasn't the custom." 

Paton's writing style initially drove me crazy, but once I got into the book and could see the bigger picture I understood why he wrote the way he did. I loved his use of the word "you" to place me directly in the setting. I also loved how there was dialogue that wasn't attributed to any particular character. It made the themes - the pain, the struggle - so universal, attributable to all rather than one. 

There were moments I won't likely forget. The description of Shanty Town will - I hope - stay with me forever. And the charity and forgiveness shown by many of the characters is an example I hope to follow.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Seth Grahame-Smith
I think it would have helped if I had liked Pride and Prejudice. It definitely would have helped if it had actually been about zombies. All in all, I don't know why this book even exists, and I certainly do not recommend it. I finished it only so I could say I gave every page a chance, but I was disappointed from start to finish.

American Quartet - Warren Adler
While the plot was well-developed and intriguing, the sexual detail surrounding both the detective and the bad guy was just too descriptive and perverse. While I understand the need for the detail as it pertained to character development, for me, it just made the book an un-enjoyable read.

The Scorch Trials - James Dashner ****
The Maze Runner - James Dashner *****
The Ship Who Sang - Anne McCaffrey ****
Power Down - Ben Coes ****
The Compound - S.A. Bodeen ****
The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle ***
The Mayor of Casterbridge - Thomas Hardy **
So Cold the River - Michael Koryta ****
The Holy Thief - William Ryan **
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin ***
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith **
The Shack - William P. Young ****
The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley ***
Unwind - Neal Shusterman *****
The Peack Kepper: A Novel - Sarah Addison Allen  ***
Tribulation Force - Tim LaHaye ****
Conquest Earth - William Manchee **
Civil War - Wiliam Manchee ***
The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan ***
Fishers of Men - Gerald Lund **** 
Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers - Ralph Moody ****
The Paradise War - Stephen Lawhead **
Keys to the Demon Prison - Brandon Mull *****
The Chosen One - Carol Lynch Williams *****
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane - Katherine Howe *****
Lonestar Sanctuary - Colleen Coble **** 

So there it is... my annual book review in incredibly truncated, boring style.  If you really want to know more, let's be friends on GoodReads!


coryshay said...

I'm glad we're friends on goodreads. I always love what you have to say. I agree with you on P & P & Z. But I only gave every page a chance up until she ripped out the ninja heart and started eating it at Lady Catherine's. What in the world, Seth Greene?