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Books 2010

Books I read in 2010, organized by category and then alphabetically by author:

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Nurture Shock, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
I was hooked by an early chapter when I recognized myself as the child praised for being smart who avoids trying new things for fear of failing at them. I found later chapters just as interesting, and liked the occasional personal anecdotes. I was left wanting more–about 1/4 of the pages are devoted to endnotes, most of which don’t have any additional information in them.

Feed Me, various, edited by Harriet Brown
This was a quick read, and I enjoyed most of the essays. I do wish it weren’t necessary to have so many books about female body image and dieting, but that’s a separate thing, not a reflection on this book.

The 5 Love Languages, Gary Chapman
I’m completely on board with the idea that people vary in what behaviors by their partners make them feel loved. I am not at all on board with the stereotypes and sexism that came through in the quizzes at the end of the book. There’s one for husbands and one for wives (my first question: why not just one quiz, worded gender neutrally?). Most of the questions are the same on both, with just husband or wife dropped into the wording as appropriate. But, and here’s where I got annoyed, the ones that differed appeared to support the “a good wife is a housewife” theory of marriage. For example, the quiz for husbands says “I feel loved when my wife does my laundry” while the wife’s version of that same question reads “I feel loved when my husband helps with the laundry”. It’s evidently unreasonable to expect a husband to actually do the laundry all by himself. Same with “When my wife cooks a meal for me, I know that she loves me” and “When my husband helps clean up after a meal, I know that he loves me”.

The Wilder Life, Wendy McClure
I was thrilled to win an advanced copy of this in a raffle at an event the author and I attended together. I enjoyed reading it even though I didn’t read the Little House books as kid (I did see some of the tv show, though). I could see myself going on this sort of modern day quest, though I doubt I could write about it as entertainingly as Wendy does or handle the touching moments so deftly.

Leonardo da Vinci, Sherwin Nuland, read by Scott Brick (A)
I liked this short, focused biography; it made me think.

Fire Someone Today, Bob Pritchett
This was given to all of the development team leaders at work—not exactly a title I want to be seen carrying around the office in this economy. It made me very tired just thinking about trying to do some of the things recommended (read more business publications, take people to lunch, build professional relationships). That’s probably why I don’t have my own business—I’d rather spend my energy doing other things.

A Fortunate Grandchild, Miss Read
A peek into life in post WWI Britain with no real plot, just reminiscences. The illustrations added a lot to my enjoyment of this one.

Sleepaway: Writings on Summer Camp
, edited by Eric Simonoff
I found the mix of fiction stories with non-fiction a bit confusing. I was surprised to find myself connecting with so much of this even though my own experiences at sleepaway camp consist of two nights as a camper and two nights as a counselor.

Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? , edited by Marissa Walsh
Not the book for me. It had that mix of fiction and non-fiction stories which I don’t appreciate, and almost all were aimed at a younger audience than I am.


Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage, M. C. Beaton, read by Donada Peters (A)
I like the title character more now than I did earlier in the series. I was rather taken aback by the body count in this one. I know a murder mystery needs at least one victim, but I didn’t think it needed quite so many as this one had.

The Bible Salesman, Clyde Edgerton, read by T. Ryder Smith (A)
Picked this one out at the library because I needed a “E” for my A-Z author challenge I’m doing this year and ended up really liking it. Having it set where and when it was made me better able to believe the main character and plot, and there were some really sweet moments and some really funny ones, and I felt more cheerful having listened to it even though it’s not a “feel good” book.

The Blue Flower, Penelope Fitzgerald, read by Edmund Dehn (A)
I am pretty sure I started this book once before and abandoned it, as the first chapter seemed really, really familiar. I got through it this time, and thought it was just okay. I have a feeling this is one of those books I’m supposed to analyze and work for, and I’m just not into that. I want the author to flesh out the characters and fill in the holes in the plot, or at least create a world which is accessible and engaging enough for me to not care that those elements aren’t there. (The voice the reader used for one of the characters was very much like that of Winnie the Pooh in the animated specials from childhood, so that was a bit amusing.)

The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory
I’ve had this book what feels like forever. I took it on several vacations and brought it back unstarted. My procrastination continued once I did finally start it; it took me a very long time to get through this. I’ve had an affinity for Anne Boleyn since I portrayed her in a school event in 6th grade, so this annoyed me rather more than most historical novels since I’m more familiar with the documented facts than usual. I wish the author had just made up characters and not messed with real people.

Playing for Pizza, John Grisham, read by Christopher Evan Welch (A)
This was a pleasant enough book, though all the lengthy descriptions of food and tourist sites in Italy made me wonder if this was written just so the author could claim a vacation in Italy as a business expense.

Beneath the Ashes, Sue Henry, read by Mary Peiffer (A)
I thought the back cover copy gave a bit too much away about the plot. The author seemed to realize that the heroine’s actions in some cases might not seem to make sense to all readers and so there were some explanations made, which I appreciated but did not entirely buy into. I did like the parts about the sled dogs.

A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood
This, I liked. I did not see the movie (did not even know there was a movie until after I’d started the book) and am glad for that, since I came to this fresh and could just sink into this day in the life of a professor in postwar California who is grieving the loss of his life partner.

Cover Her Face, P. D. James, read by Penelope Dellaporta (A)
This mystery showed its age a bit but it was still a pleasant enough listen.

Mr. Majestyk, Elmore Leonard, read by Frank Muller (A)
Several of the plot points made me say “o rly?” but this was a good car book—enough happening to keep my interest but nothing too complicated to distract me from driving.

The Suicide Collectors, David Oppegaard, read by Roberston Dean (A)
I liked this, which surprised me, since I generally avoid apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, figuring if I want to be scared and depressed, I can read the news. Yet I found myself looking forward to listening to this and thinking about the world of the book when I wasn’t listening to it. There was a sense of detachment in the narration that felt fitting. The ending was perhaps a bit abrupt, but that leaves plenty of room for me to make up my own sequel in my head.

The Ivy Chronicles, Karen Quinn, read by Julia Gibson (A)
I so disliked the main character (and first-person narrator) and her poor choices and annoying attitude that I almost gave up on this early on. Once the plot got going, so many unbelievable (yet oddly predictable) things happened that I began to think this was meant as a farce, yet I’m not sure it was. I did get a few genuine laughs about 2/3 of the way through, but I’m not sure that was worth putting up with the rest of it. I didn’t like the main character any better at the end, though I think I was supposed to.

Nappily Ever After, Trisha R. Thomas
This was okay, fluffier than I expected.

False Witness, Dorothy Uhnak
Very much a book of its time (the late 70s/early 80s); it felt dated to me.

God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, Kurt Vonnegut, read by Scott Brick (A)
This was over in what seemed like no time at all. I liked the premise, but think it probably worked better in the original form of short radio pieces spaced out over time.

Sky Burial, Xinran, translated by Julia Lovell and Esther Tyldesley
This is subtitled “An Epic Love Story of Tibet”; I would have called it “A Bleak Tale of Tibet”. I learned a few things about Tibet, but felt at a distance from the characters the whole time, which was probably a good thing given some of the things that happened to them.

Kitchen, Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Megan Backus
I didn’t understand at first that this was two novellas and wondered why the characters were all replaced by a new cast and put in a new situation. There’s a dreamy quality to this book: things happen that should make no sense but somehow they do yet nothing seems quite solid.

In Free Fall, Juli Zeh, translated by Christine Lo
I didn’t know what was going on about a third of the time and wish the epilogue would have been longer to help me sort things out. I found a lot of sweetness here (amidst some horrifying moments), and things to think about, including a concept involving the mountains that I’d never heard before.

Fiction—Paranormal, Romance, SciFi, Fantasy:

Wanderlust, Ann Aguirre
I liked seeing Sirantha Jax again, and I liked being surprised by several plot points. This book didn’t wrap up as satisfyingly as the first one did, but at least the third one is already out so I don’t have to wait to see what comes next. I felt the ending was a bit rushed—four planets in eight days with only a handful of sentences to cover them. I get that they’re not important to the plot, but I still would have liked to hear more about them. Maybe those worlds will get their time later.

DoubleBlind, Ann Aguirre
I don’t know. I really like a lot of these characters, and I was intrigued by the new planet, but overall it left me feeling sad and tired. I’ll keep reading the series, though, because I do like the characters so much. I’m hoping for spin off series for some of them.

Shades of Midnight, Lara Adrian
I liked this one so much that I wished I’d brought it to work to read during lunch and stayed up very late to finish it. There’s just something about this series that grabs me and keeps me coming back. Of course I have a few nitpicks, including that I’m about done with the “I am not worthy” vamps who bite Breedmates anyway, and I’m very skeptical about that a couple things that happened at the end could have gone down that way, even within the world of the book. No matter, I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Cory Doctorow, read by Sean Puckett (A)
A very interesting take on Walt Disney World in the distant future. A few historical details were questionable from the perspective of this Disney parks fan, but that didn’t really detract from the overall experience because so many of the details were spot on, and I enjoyed imagining WDW as transformed in this world.

Dead in the Family, Charlaine Harris
I started listening to this on CD but the voices didn’t match the ones in my head (which have now been influenced by the ones on the tv show), so I had to switch to the print version when my name came up on the library hold list for that instead. Early on, I was reminded of all the things I didn’t like about the previous book in the series but this one ended up being better. Still oddly paced, though, and the heat between Eric and Sookie I remembered from before wasn’t there.

Many Bloody Returns, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, and Others
This is a collection of short stories written around the theme of vampires and birthdays. Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse story is the headliner here, but it was nowhere near the best one in the book—it felt forced to me, and didn’t really add anything to the mythos of that world. I liked Christopher Golden’s coming of age story the best—maybe because it was different than the typical vampire tale.

A Touch of Dead, Charlaine Harris
I checked this out of the library not realizing I’d already read most of these stories in other collections. The ones that were new to me weren’t any better than the ones I’d already read—I’m afraid Sookie has jumped the shark for me.

Sea Witch, Virginia Kantra
It was refreshing to read about selkies—but since they were new to me, I wished for more world-building than I got in this book. I liked the heroine much more in the beginning of the book than the end. I am planning to read the next in the series to see if maybe things don’t turn out the way I think they did based on how this one ended.

Tempest Rising, Nicole Peeler
This worked for me. Yes, the vamp was a stereotypical pretty boy, and yes, the main characters got together for no good reason, and the brand name and pop culture references were annoying, yet overall I liked it. I liked the world, and I really liked some of the secondary characters. I will probably read the next in the series just to see if there’s more of those characters.

Archangel’s Kiss, Nalini Singh
Second in this series, with the hero and heroine carrying over from the first book. I found the hero more relatable in this one, and was quite happy that some things I thought were going to happen in the plot did not (I’d say more but don’t want to spoil). I’ll definitely keep reading this series, though I still don’t like it as well as her Psy-Changelings.
Branded by Fire, Nalini Singh
It felt so good to get back to reading this series. I especially loved the beginning of this one. I wasn’t entirely convinced that the main couple had such a strong connection, but maybe they’ll grow into it in later books.

Blaze of Memory, Nalini Singh
I thought the hero was a bit overly alpha for a non-changeling, and couldn’t quite understand why he was so into the heroine, yet Nalini Singh writes so well that I was crying actual tears at certain points in this book, I was so affected by the story.

Lover Avenged, J. R. Ward
I was not going to read this book, having fallen out of love with the series during the last couple of installments, but there it was on the library shelf in the new books area where I had to walk right by it, so I caved and checked it out. I was able to renew it, twice, which means I’m not the only one who’s not as hot on this series as before. And I read it and liked it much better than the last two books. Sure, there is still a ridiculous amount of brand name dropping, and the characters don’t always act true to what I’ve come to understand of them, but there were some sections so good I’ve gone back to re-read, and I’m actually interested in what happens next.

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