I'll do my full review in my first quarter review for 2012, but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this fast-paced book. Who doesn't love a good dystopia book? Now I want to share the love and send it on to one of you. So the sponsor for this giveaway is MOI.
To enter to win a copy of The Hunger Games, just leave a comment on this post telling me anything. However, if you WANT a prompt then how something like telling me the name of a book you've read in the last year or what you plan to eat for lunch or who on Grey's Anatomy you would do it with in the on-call room since I'm just now working my way through Grey's on Netflix. No need to do all 3 prompts. Basically, I'm just saying comment with whatever. I'm flexible, yo. Contest will end on Friday, March 9 at midnight CST. (And I would do McDreamy. In a flexible manner.)
Quarter 3 & 4 Book Reviews for 2011
I've still been reading away this whole time since Oliver was born. Books and I are BFFs forever and ever, amen, and ain't nothin' gonna breaka our stride. However, I did have to alter how and what and how often I was reading given the whole baby sitch. So most of these books were read on my iPhone while nursing and I was at the mercy of what was available from the digital selection at the library - often that meant biographies (the fiction & non-fiction are a pain to search through). Also, I feel like I need to say that my reviews might be a little skewed from the past eight months given my own personal crazy-pants life since Oliver was born. So take my reviews with a grain of sleep-deprived salt. Any negative reviews might just be from crabbiness.
37. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Fun period piece about 20-somethings in 1930s NYC. A definite recommend. Read my full BlogHer review. A-
38. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. I'd been meaning to read this book forever and I have to say I was disappointed. The good: I was interested in the characters and their plight as immigrants and the parallels to today's horrifying meat packing problems were interesting. The bad: I was really confused and bored when the book turned into a pro-Socialist lecture. Sinclair's political agendas should have been woven in more gently instead of launching into them at the end like he did. Seemed really weird. B+ for the first part of the book, D for the remainder .
39. The Goodbye Summer by Patricia Gaffney While I liked this author's voice, the 30-something protagonist annoyed me with her excessive naivete and tendency to escape life by surrounding herself with elderly people. This was a gentle and very slow paced book. C+
40. Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. This is the book that came from a blog by the same name. The concept is "How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)" and the author's fame came from her controversial decision to let her 9-year-old ride the subway alone in NYC. The book presents arguments about why we need to let go of some of the fears we have with modern parenting, citing statistics and facts and opening our eyes to how the media skews the data. I have mixed feelings about some of the situations and examples she gives for free range parenting, but I think the overall message has merit. The concept sticks with me, but I can say for certain that I would never be able to jump on board with letting a 9-year-old ride the subway. But that's just me. B- for good content, but somewhat messy compilation information.
40.5. Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor by Rick Marin Only read half of this before giving up. Marin is a tool and likes weird, creepy, emotionally labile women. The book is embarrassing and just off. F for icky.
41. The Old Romantic by Louise Dean I kept getting confused about what was going on with this book because of the way she presented new characters. Kind of a sleepy novel. Maybe my lack of connection to it was a British culture thing? B-
42. Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert I think it's funny that I read this. Prairie Tale is the true Hollywood story of Laura from Little House on the Prairie. Unfortunately for Ms Gilbert, I don't think this book did her any favors. She came across as very egotistical and somewhat foolish. I wish I hadn't read it in some way and preserved my idea of "Laura." However, I think that is exactly the kind of thing that drives her and other child stars bonkers, so maybe it's a good thing that I can see her in a more multi-dimensional and flawed and REAL way. Interesting read for Little House fans. I totes want to read Rob Lowe's book now. And you will see below (#51) that I read "Nellie Oleson's" (Alison Arngrim) auto-biography, too. I would recommend reading Arngrim's book first if you were to read both as it's higher quality. B
43. Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, A Love Story by Ree Drummond I had already read most of her love story on her blog Pioneer Woman, so this was a repeat for the first 2/3 of the book and then there wasn't anything too exciting in the new stuff. I don't really care for the overly cutesy way she talks about Marlboro Man (ugh, the tingly hiney stuff is just cringe-worthy), but obviously she inspired me to write out my own love story and I think she has talent. The book is worth a look if you never read her love story on her blog, otherwise I would say skip it or check it out from the library if you are really into Pioneer Woman. B-
44. Rescue by Anita Shreve The story of a young couple who have a kid and the woman disappears for many years and then returns. Where oh where has my beloved Anita Shreve gone? I adore some of her early books. They really struck a chord with me. Her past several books? No. The characters in this one once again rubbed me the wrong way and I felt disappointed in the story line. Sorry to say I give it a C. (I grade harshly on this because I KNOW she can do better.)
45. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. A re-read for me, last read when I was in college and home for Spring Break. MY what a difference 10-ish years make in the reading and interpretation of this novel. Prodigal Summer is the story of a woman who lives a solitary life in Appalachia. Lots of characters stories are weaved together and, as always, Kingsolver's work has a strong connection to nature. This book is intricate and has so many levels. Really brilliant. I love being a re-reader and seeing how I've grown as a person and observing the differences in my own response. One interesting self-observation was that I was more harsh in my judgement of the woman protagonist...I'm going to pop-psychology myself and guess that it's because I'm closer in age to her now and therefore can relate to her more and am actually judging myself. Or something. Ha! A
46. The Happiness Project or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin On the surface, this book seemed right up my alley: a type-A approach to happiness - lists and charts and research, woo hoo! But the actual book came up short. Ms. Rubin comes across as a bit of a bored rich lady and not so much an everyday person trying to find happiness amid the chaos (in other words, expect to roll your eyes quite a bit). However, there were still some interesting thoughts and research to make this book a worthwhile read. B-
47. Yoga Bitch: One Woman's Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment by Suzanne Morrison
There is definitely some good book fodder within the yoga world, especially the consumer yoga world. The author is honest and sarcastic and at times a bit of an idiot (but aren't we all?) and I thought this book was amusing. I think it also does some good to shed light on the disconnect between yoga as a business and yoga as a quiet act of solitude for self-improvement and self-awareness. There's the possibility for the two to co-exist, but it gets really murky, really quickly (just like big medicine). B
48. Slow Love Dominique Brown This book marks the end of a non-purposeful trilogy of journey-to-happiness-and-awareness books. Read my full BlogHer Book Review here, but as a spoiler, I rate it a B. I should dock her down to a B- for giving her boyfriend the moniker of "Stroller", however.
49. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield
OOH, I was happy when this one popped up on my digital library list. This is the fictionalized story of Laura Bush (as in, George's wife). The book started out strong and had me doing all sorts of googling about the real Laura Bush. I think she is a fascinating woman and her life choices and current place in life are so curious. But that curiosity and seeming mismatch in her choice of a spouse made the book confusing once she met her husband-to-be. Why would she choose him? Why was she willing to go along with him and his life? That question was never quite answered for me (and made the book less compelling), but I suspect maybe that's the point. B
50. Don't Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley
A memoir about someone with severe food allergies. Really well written and funny and interesting and educational. I want to be her friend. A
51. Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated by Alison Arngrim
There was a lot more to Nellie than I ever guessed. Alison Arngrim's a tough cookie and seems like a really good person. A witty, revealing and smart book that still contains plenty of Hollywood gossip. A-
52. Eggs in the Coffee, Sheep in the Corn: My 17 Years as a Farmwife by Marjorie M Douglas
The memoir of an accidental farmwife in Minnesota during the 1940s and 1950s. Interesting perspective, but I felt sad for the author and how stuck she must have felt at times. Ms. Douglas is remarkably restrained in talking about her father-in-law and his somewhat manipulative ways. B+
53. The Big Love by Sarah Dunn
An ABC Family rom-com of a novel. Took me awhile to finish it as it didn't hold my interest. Protagonist is a bit of an odd duck, made it hard to relate much to her. C
54. Innocent Spouse by Carol Ross Joynt
True story of a woman who learned of her husband's tax fraud (in the millions) after his sudden death. Interesting read, but something felt off to me. I struggled to see what her attraction to her husband would have been in the first place - he sounded like quite a a-hole to me. And that makes me question her and what she really did or did not know. I wanted to have more compassion for her, but it wasn't there. C+
55. A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand
Would classify this one as a good beach read. The protagonist is a 40-something mom and artist who starts making some highly questionable choices in her life. Read it quickly because I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next. B
56. Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller
The interwoven story of complex and nuanced characters, mostly centered around a playwright and her current play. Sue Miller is a quality author and has that ability to paint flawed characters that you somehow still root for. I liked this and need to remember to figure out which Sue Miller books I haven't read yet. A-
57. Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye by Lois Lowry
Taking it back to the old school here. I must have read this for the first time more than 15 years ago. The story of an adopted girl who wants to find her birth mom. A poignant and sometimes melancholy book. Quality teen lit. A-
58. Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
Stumbled on this book randomly searching the digital book database and enjoyed it. Heart of the book is the story of two very different sisters - one a CEO for a tech business and the other a grad student who works at a bookstore. Kept my attention and I enjoyed the twists and turns. B+
59. Intuition by Allegra Goodman
After enjoying Cookbook Collector, I read another book by her. This book centered around a research lab. Again she had interesting characters and a well-thought-out storyline, but the details about research involving mice were very off-putting for me - to the point of distraction. B-
Still looking for something to read? Check out my past reviews: First Quarter 2011, Second Quarter 2011, 2010 Book Reviews