Books I've read this year

So, my hope is to update this monthly, but I thought I'd start off with what I've read so far this year.  Love sharing book reviews, as well as getting book suggestions!

  • Across the Universe, by Beth Revis  I have a real soft spot in my heart for YA novels - usually the dystopian literature that seems to be all the rage since everyone finally caught on to The Hunger Games.  This one is a bit sci-fi/dystopian - the main character and her parents are cryogenically frozen and supposed to awaken 300 years into the future when they arrive on a distant planet.  Due to some hi jinks she wakes 50 years too soon and many mysteries about the ship she is travelling on begin to unfold.  I devoured it in just a couples days - probably would have sat and read it in one sitting on a rainy Sunday, pre-punks.  And, like all YA these days, it's a trilogy.  So, I had to read the sequel:
  • A Million Suns, by Beth Revis This one seemed a little less original and like a very formulaic 'whodunnit.'  But I invested myself in the characters and the mysteries of the Godspeed, so now I have to know what happens.  Stupid trilogies...  Speaking of..
  • A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness  AND nearly all contemporary fiction is jumping on the bandwagon o' trilogy.  The first in a series about a forbidden love between a vampire and a witch, comparisons to Twilight, Anne Rice, blah de blah.  For me it was bogged down in too much detail, the courtship between the two main characters is dragged out for-ev-er and it's a wee bit campy - I had a hard time suspending disbelief.  Don't think I'll be going back for the sequel...
  • 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami  Dude, just.... dude.  I don't know.  It's like looking at art and trying to interpret it - I'm not down with that.  It was on every. single. best. of. 2011 list.  So I muddled through.  Check it out if you're way into the surreal.
  • The Tigers Wife, by Tea Obreht  This was another on all the best of the year lists.  Meh.  It felt like a bunch of disjointed short stories and, whaddya know, it started out as a short story.  Kinda highbrow, smarty pants stuff that might have been fun to dissect in college, but not what I want out of books nowadays, i.e. brain candy.
  • Ten Thousand Saints, by Eleanor Henderson  Er, same review as above - maybe I need to steer clear of 'best of' lists...  At least this one had a coming of age narrative that was somewhat compelling, but still too many themes and issues to really just focus and care about any one of the main characters.
  • The Giver, by Lois Lowry  I finally read the mother of all YA dystopian literature and could easily see how it's inspired some really great current fiction.  This is one that I could sit and discuss at length - the value and sacrifices involved in trying to attain a utopian society.  Haunting and powerful.  Only downside, we're kind of left hanging about the fate of our protagonist - I HATE that.
  • Austenland, by Shannon Hale  Ha! Haahahaha.  Man, I could have written this book.  I mean, I like brain candy, but not brainless candy.  There's lots of good, well written chick lit out there - that doesn't assume we women are completely clueless.  I could tell exactly how this was going to go from the second chapter.  I can't believe Stephenie Meyer is helping make this into a film.  Maybe this will be one of the first instances of a movie being better than the book...
  • Bringing up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman  There were some interesting anecdotes regarding the differences between French and Americans, but I felt like she kept repeating the same information. Definitely gave me a few things to think about. However, it could have easily been boiled down to a magazine article. I also became annoyed at the collective 'we' when she'd talk about guilt-ridden, neurotic American moms - some gross generalizations going on about moms as well as our children.
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green Now here's a coming of age story that was completely mesmerizing, mysterious, emotional and will stay with me for a long time.  Two thumbs up.
  • State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett  This is the best book I've read so far this year.  I was totally surprised by it - by the contents of a very boring cover, by the author that I wasn't super impressed with (I didn't understand all the hubub over Bel Canto), and by the story itself - I mean there were several parts where my hand flew over my mouth in an 'OMIGOD!' moment of surprise.  It's a keeper.  I can't even explain what it's about, just get it.  Thank you, Princess Nebraska for giving me that last bit of convincing I needed to put it on the Kindle, as well as Looking for Alaska!


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