Goals achieved with little effort are seldom worthwhile or long lasting.
from My Personal Best by John Wooden with Steve Jamison
I signed up for 5 new challenges this year. I completed 4 of them easily, but the States Challenge became a bit of an obsession. I only managed 76 books this year and still visited all 50 states! In the month of December I had to finish a book every 2.5 days to check this challenge off my To Do list. The Agatha Christie Challenge is ongoing so I hope to get more done on that in 2012.
I had one challenge holdover from 2010. I asked you all to choose 50 book from my TBR piles for me to read and I read 36 in 2010 and another 11 in 2011, leaving me with 3 left for 2012. Weird that I have had no desire in 2 years to pick up the one that garnered the most votes!
Except for those three books and the Agatha Christie challenge I am making 2012 a challenge free year. I need to take some of the pressure off of myself and have a more relaxed reading year. I do have a toddler running around here, you know 🙂
Here’s the challenge wrap up…
1. She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb – 12 votes (Mary, Marce, Jo-Jo, Amanda, Calico Critic, ‘Nise, Jo Ann, Allesandra, Piroska, Mom, Literary Feline, Melissa)
9. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley – 7 votes (Carol, Staci, FleurFisher, Vasilly, Ms. Mazzola, Angie, Amanda)
49. The Human Stain by Philip Roth – 2 votes (Jackie, Mille)
Alabama The Hellion by LaVyrle Spencer
Colorado The Invitation by Jude Deveraux
Delaware Hawke’s Harbor by SE Hinton
Florida Black Out by Lisa Unger
Georgia Quicksand by Iris Johansen
Hawaii Kona Winds by Janet Dailey
Illinois The Litigators by John Grisham
Kentucky Foxfire Light by Janet Dailey
Lousiana Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Maine Carrie by Stephen King
Maryland Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler
Massachusetts Just Above a Whisper by Lori Wick
Minnesota Buried Prey by John Sandford
Mississippi Third Degree by Greg Iles
Missouri Little Black Dress by Susan McBride
Montana Work Song by Ivan Doig
Nebraska My Antonia by Willa Cather
New Hampshire A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
New Jersey Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
New Mexico The Secret of Everything by Barbara O’Neal
North Dakota A Christmas Blizzard by Garrison Keillor
Oklahoma Six White Horses by Janet Dailey
Pennsylvania Someone in the House by Barbara Michaels
Rhode Island The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
South Carolina What So Proudly We Hailed by James Howard
South Dakota Black Hills by Nora Roberts
Tennessee The Glass Flame by Phyllis Whitney
Vermont Testimony by Anita Shreve
Virginia Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
Washington The Snow Globe by Sheila Roberts
West Virginia Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
Wisconsin Afraid by Jack Kilborn
Wyoming Open Season CJ Box
Washington DC The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles reviewed here.
2. The Secret Adversary reviewed here.
Finish 100 miles in three months, July 1-September 30. I finished my 100 miles on September 14th!!!
R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VI September 1-October 31st.
Finished 12-30-11, rating 3/5, classic fiction, 266 pages, pub. 1918
“I came to ask you something, Tony. Grandmother wants to know if you can’t go to the term of school that begins next week over at the sod schoolhouse. She says there’s a good teacher, and you’d learn a lot.”
Antonia stood up, lifting and dropping her shoulders as if they were stiff. “I ain’t got time to learn. I can work like mans now. My mother can’t say no more how Ambrosch do all and nobody to help him. I can work as much as him. School is all right for little boys. I help make this land one good farm.”
Let me start by saying that we listened to the first half of this in the car on our holiday travels, but I could not make Jason listen to more. He hated it. He told me there was a good chance of him falling asleep while driving if we listened to more. I had to agree that the audio wasn’t good. The Bohemian accents were laughable to me and really ruined Antonia. And it was fairly boring on the Nebraska farm.
Once home, I picked up the book and finished. I am happy to report that it got better for me. Jim, the narrator, who had crushed on Antonia since he was a boy on the farm moved to town with his grandparents and Antonia soon followed him, working at the house next door. Their friendship had its ups and downs, but remained the dominant relationship in Jim’s life even decades later.
This is a great study of early Nebraska and the people who settled there, many foreigners who didn’t understand the land, the language, or the people. Foreigners like Antonia and her family. Life working the land was hard and it could make people mean, but not Jim’s grandparents. Jim went there to live with them after his mom and dad died back in Virginia and was blessed with a relatively easy life compared to some.
I thought this was alternately boring and interesting. Just when something interesting would capture my interest it would be followed by pages of details that didn’t move the story along for me. I think it’s a good study of one Nebraska farm girl’s life, but it may have been more compelling told from her point of view so that she was not just seen on the fringes of Jim’s life.
I would rate the first half/audio a 2 and the second half/paper a 3.5. I read this for the states challenge and I do feel like I’ve been there.
This was from my personal library.
I read 76 books this year and these are my favorites (only 2 of them were published this year)…
I watched 44 movies this year and these are the ones I feel good about recommending…
In April I asked that you all participate in my 5 word reviews by adding 5 words of your own. For each review posted I would contribute $1 to charity. When we reach $100 the person who contributed the most reviews would get to choose the charity. Well, we are up to $99 and I’d like to get that check out! So, please contribute your reviews (list here). Since I’ve still got the holiday spirit I’ll keep contributing $1 for a week, even if we go over $100.
Once a month I feature the movies I’ve seen for the first time with a 5 word ‘review’. Only it’s not really a review. For that I need your help. I hope that you’ll add your 5 words to my 5 words and that someone else will add their 5 words and so on until we have a a fun hodgepodge of words that make up a ‘review’.
Smartly done period dramedy. Fun.
Even better than the first. (Michelle)
Downey, still my fave Sherlock. (Heather)
Earnest Insurance Hijinks. No, really.
Totally unrealistic but cute romance.
Surprisingly cute but overly predictable. (Heather)
Finished 12-26-11, rating 4.5/5, non-fiction, 202 pages, pub. 2004
Don’t make excuses
Joshua Hugh Wooden’s “two sets of threes” to live by (John Wooden’s father)
John Wooden, a basketball coaching legend, won 10 national championships in his 27 years at UCLA, but it was his honest and positive approach to life that won him a multitude of fans. This book chronicles some of the biggest moments of his life and how they influenced him, from his father reading poetry to he and his brothers to the death of his beloved Nell in 1985. He loved his family, respected others, and was always striving for success, on the court and off.
Jason and I read this aloud to each other for a few minutes each night as Gage listened or played, a perfect book for it. I hope that Jason will read this with Gage when he gets older. Wooden is role model because of the way he lived his life. He had success after success and yet he was always trying to learn lessons from perceived failings. It was so refreshing to read about someone considered the best in their field who was also just a decent human being. He was 99 when he died in 2010.
The book had lots of pictures and lots of basketball talk and is a perfect read for fathers & sons.
This book was from my personal library.
Finished 12-26-11, rating 2.75/5, romance, 186 pages, pub. 1977
Patty is a trick rider in the rodeo. She travels with her grandfather who helps her handle and train the six white horses Patty uses for her show. The owner of the rodeo , Morgan Kincaid is overbearing and opinionated and clashes constantly with Patty. The animosity is hiding a powerful attraction and Patty is the last to realize that not all fighting is bad.
I rolled my eyes through the first half of the book, but once they arrived in Oklahoma and I learned a little more about the rodeo circuit and the history of Oklahoma I actually enjoyed the story. Did you know that Oklahoma City is the only state capital with an oil well underneath? Makes sense, but I didn’t know it. So, it was melodramatic, but the small historical details made it tolerable.
Okay, this is the last of these small romances that I’ll be reading and complaining about, but I needed a romance and one from Oklahoma, and this one fit the bill.
I had this book in my personal library.
Finished 12-24-11, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 180 pages. pub. 2011
Don’t you feel it? Christmas is the force field of heightened possibility. It’s not about religion, those myths we were brought up with are only tools to direct us toward the mystery of the under self. It’s about the ecstatic visualization of psychic world is calling us toward balanced consciousness. Don’t you feel that? There is a lightness and spontaneity that is struggling to get through all the commercial static and leads us out of our linear consciousness into a global wholeness, don’t you?”
James Sparrow is a very rich man with a pump handle obsession who hates Christmas. His wife, Joyce (James & Joyce, cute right?) is a graceful woman who loves all things Christmas and would celebrate all year long if she could. James is preparing to fly to Hawaii for the holiday when he receives a call from his cousin in North Dakota that his Uncle Earl is dying. Seeing that Uncle Earl was the only good thing about his childhood, James charters his private jet to Looseleaf for a quick visit before continuing on to the warm beaches of Hawaii. Only the spiritual powers in North Dakota have conspired to ground this modern day Scrooge until he learns to make peace with Christmas.
Once I looked at this book as a modern take on A Christmas Carol I enjoyed it much more. At first the talking wolf and dream sequences put me off a bit when I was expecting a nice, sweet holiday read. I’ve never read Keillor so I didn’t know what to expect and while I enjoyed this holiday story I won’t be rushing out to read more.
Checked this book out of the library.
Finished audio 12-22-11, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2010
Unabridged audio 9 hours. Narrated by Jonathan Hogan.
This is the sequel to The Whistling Season, but is a perfectly fine stand alone novel.
Morrie Morgan shows up in Butte, Montana in the early 1900’s, without friends, a job, or even a change of clothes. He finds work as funeral crier and a place to live with a widow and two boarders and begins to carve out a life for himself while running from his past.
Butte is a mining city and Anaconda Copper company owns the city, much to the miners dismay. Morrie starts working at the library and is mistaken for an instigator by Anaconda goons and is forced to take sides. He sides with his new friends and goes a step further by helping the union workers find ammunition to use against the company.
There is a nice story and it moves along at a good pace. I appreciated the lyrcal and humorous writing. The slyness kept the story fresh. The story of the big company versus the minions is very topical and added an extra layer of recognition to the story.
I loved the narration. Hogan had a Steve Martin quality to his voice that I loved. He really made me think that I could hang out with Morrie for a while. At least before he took off to parts unknown again.
I enjoyed this visit to Montana.
I checked this audio out of the library.
Finished audio 12-21-11, rating 3/5, romantic suspense, pub. 2009
Listened to the playaway narrated by Nick Podehl. 17 hours unabridged.
Lil and Cooper were best friends. He spent his summers in South Dakota with grandparents and Lil was a local girl and the two of them managed to keep their friendship going through their early twenties. At that point hormones and pride got in the way and they became distant. A dozen years later Cooper has returned to South Dakota for good and Lil is there running her rescue habitat in the Black Hills. It doesn’t take long for the two to reconnect, especially after a serial killer seems to have his eyes set on Lil.
I read Nora Roberts on occasion, in the almost 4 years I’ve had this blog this is the fourth Roberts’ book I’ve reviewed. I usually like her stories but didn’t really care for this one. There was no chemistry and the killer provided no mystery. Lil was an okay character, but Chase wasn’t very charismatic. They were kind of a boring couple. It also could have been the 17 hours of listening that bored me. I did like Lil’s rescue habitat. I visited one we have in Ohio (post here) and think they are necessary places and labors of love, so that part of the story was interesting.