Friday, December 30, 2011

End of the Year Wrap-Up 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

In 2011 I read 117 titles. It is 31 titles less than last year. Nevertheless I read the same    50 000 pages as I did last year. I guess my books were fatter in 2011. The most books I read in November (14 titles), the least – in September (4 titles).

I didn’t nearly do as good as I hoped with my reviews – life kept getting in a way. Don’t get me wrong, I do not complain. The life that was getting in the way was a good life. I will exchange an ideal blog with a lot of reviews and discussion posts that is updated every day in a heartbeat for a life like that. And this is what I actually did. Maybe next year I will be able to have a life and at the same time write reviews for almost every book I read – time will show.

According to out of 117 titles I read I gave:
5 stars (It was amazing!) to 15 books;
4 stars (I really liked it!) to 46 books;
3 stars (I liked it) to 44 books;
2 stars (It was ok) to 7 books;
1 star (I didn’t like it) to 5 books.

Out of 117 titles 16 were rereads, including the whole set of Harry Potter and the first book twice (yeah, I know, I have a problem :)

Out of 117 titles:
44 Classics;
15 Young Adult;
17 Children;
14 Fiction;
6 Non-Fiction;
5 Sci-Fi;
4 Mystery;
4 Paranormal;
3 Romance;
2 Horror;
2 Graphic Novels;
1 Fantasy.

Favorite from Classics:
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Most disappointing from Classics:
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Favorite from Young Adult:
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Most disappointing from Young Adult:
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia

Favorite from Children:
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman (not to mention Harry Potter, but since Harry Potter books were reread, I picked The Golden Compass).
Most disappointing from Children:
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

Favorite from Fiction:
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Most disappointing from Fiction:
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Favorite from Non-Fiction:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Most disappointing from Non-Fiction:
Back to the Best Books by Marilyn Green Faulkner

Favorite from Sci-Fi:
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Most disappointing from Sci-Fi:

Favorite from Mystery:
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Most disappointing from Mystery:
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Favorite from Paranormal:
Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, #9) by Charlaine Harris
Most disappointing from Paranormal:
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

The longest book I read this year was Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. It had 1472 pages and it took me 13 days.
Even though The Iliad by Homer is much shorter than Les Misérables, it took me eight month to finish it, so it was a book a read for the longest time this year.

The shortest book (I only call it a book for consistency, even though it is not even a short story) I read was Harry Potter: The Prequel by J.K. Rowling. It had 800 words and it took me 1-2 minutes.

Plans for next year? Nothing specific, just read what I want, as much as I want and post when I want - total freedom and no obligations.

Happy New Year everyone!

Here is the full list of books I read in 2011:

January 2011
1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
2. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
3. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
4. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
5. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
8. Neuromancer by William Gibson
9. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
10. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
11. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

February 2011
1. The Graduate by Charles Webb
2. The 120 Days of Sodom by Marquis de Sade
3. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
4. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
5. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
7. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
8. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
9. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
10. Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
11. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

March 2011
1. Fantômas by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain
2. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
3. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
5. The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien
6. The Red and the Black by Stendhal
7. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
9. Angelique: The Marquise of the Angels by Sergeanne Golon
10. Angelique: The Road to Versailles by Sergeanne Golon
11. What Maisie Knew by Henry James
12. Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne

April 2011
1. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
2. A Lear of the Steppes by Ivan Turgenev
3. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
4. Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham
5. The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan
6. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
7. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
8. Oroonoko by Aphra Behn
9. The Secret Lives of Men and Women: A PostSecret Book by Frank Warren

May 2011
1. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
3. Back to the Best Books by Marilyn Green Faulkner
4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
5. Gone by Lisa McMann
6. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
7. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
8. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
9. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
10. Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
11. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
12. The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

June 2011
1. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
2. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
3. The Trial by Franz Kafka
4. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
5. 1984 by George Orwell
6. Emma by Jane Austen
7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
8. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

July 2011
1. Sutter Island by Dennis Lehane
2. Looking for Alaska by John Green
3. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco
4. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
5. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
6. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
7. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

August 2011
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré(Illustrator)
2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré(Illustrator
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré(Illustrator
4. Harry Potter and the Gob let of Fire (Harry Potter #3) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré(Illustrator)
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré(Illustrator)
6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré(Illustrator)
7. Harry Potter and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré(Illustrator)

September 2011
1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
2. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

October 2011
1. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
2. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
3. Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
4. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia
5. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
6. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
7. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
8. Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse, #9) by Charlaine Harris
9. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré(Illustrator)
11. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tales by Joss Whedon

November 2011
1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
2. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
3. The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide by Eva Talmadge, Justin Taylor
4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie,Ellen Forney(Illustrator)
5. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
6. I am Legend by Richard Matheson
7. Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary Gygax
8. Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
9. One Day by David Nicholls
10. Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
11. 40 Love by Madeleine Wickham
12. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
13. Harry Potter: The Prequel by J.K. Rowling
14. The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

December 2011
1. The Golden Compass(His Dark Materials, #1) by Philip Pullman
2. The Wind in the Willows  Kenneth Grahame
3. Trapped by Michael Northrop
4. Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind
5. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
6. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
7. The Iliad by Homer
8. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2) by Philip Pullman
9. Matilda by Roald Dahl,Quentin Blake(Illustrator)
10. Watchmen by by Alan Moore,Dave Gibbons (Illustrator),John Higgins (Colorist),Len Wein (Editor)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top Ten Childhood Favorites - Top Ten Tuesday #8

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Childhood Favorites

This turned out the hardest Top Ten Tuesday I’ve done so far, the hardest in terms that I only have to pick ten. First time I set down to think about this list I ended up with twenty five items and I was only picking best from the best. Second time I was able to narrow it down to seventeen by not simply removing book titles from the list, but by removing parts of myself. All the books I clearly remember from my childhood are my favorites. So let’s see if I will be able to stop just at ten… Here we go in no particular order:

The Old Genie Hottabych by Lazar Lagin. This is a Russian book, which was translated to English. The story is set in 1960th Moscow. One day “a schoolboy named Volka Kostylkov, the very same Volka who used to live on Three Ponds Street, you know, the best diver at summer camp last year” finds a very strange looking copper vessel. While trying to clean it, he frees (yes, you guessed it right), a genie that was imprisoned in the bottle for thousands of years. This is a hilarious and amusing story about a character from One Thousand and One Night loose in the middle of contemporarily Moscow (or not as much contemporarily nowadays).  A couple of my favorite moments: First, when a genie and Volka go to the soccer match. While unaware of the soccer rules, a genie conjures a lot of balls, so every player would get a chance to play with its own and doesn’t have to chase the only ball on the field. Second, when Volka is nervous about his geography exam, Hottabych offers his help, by overtaking Volka’s voice and speaking on exam instead of him. The hilarious part is genie’s geography knowledge – the earth is flat and it stands on whales, turtles and elephants.

One Hundred Years Ahead by Kir Bulychev. This is another very popular Russian book. I couldn’t find it in English translation though. The story is set in 1980th Moscow. One day a boy Kolia Gerasimov accidently finds a time machine and goes a hundred years in the future to take a quick pick. He ends up in the middle of galactic conflict when last two space pirates are trying to steal a device called "myelophone", a mind-reader from a girl who works with it - Alisa Seleznyova. To save the device Kolia takes it and runs to hide it in his own time. Pirates who know how Kolia looks, but don’t know anything else about him, follow Kolia.  Alisa who knows the first name and the school where Kolia goes, but doesn’t know how Kolia looks, follow the pirates. The story is full of adventure, mystery and humor.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  I guess everyone know this story and I don’t have to write synopsis for this. I probably reread this book hundred times (not from cover to cover, but only my favorite moments). I had a copy with original illustrations by John Tenniel and I still remember a Cheshire cat’s smile.

Karlson on the Roof Series (including Karlson on the Roof, Karlson Flies Again and The World's Best Karlson) by Astrid Lindgren.Imagine Smidge's delight when, one day, a little man with a propeller on his back appears hovering at the window! It's Karlson and he lives in a house on the roof. Soon Smidge and Karlson are sharing all sorts of adventures, from tackling thieves and playing tricks to looping the loop and running across the rooftops. Fun and chaos burst from these charming, classic stories.” This is one of the most hilarious books that I read as a child.

Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. This is another widely known story and also another book that I read dozens of times till wholes in my copy (even though I was very careful), crying every time for poor sad Eeyore.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. As far as I can remember and I can’t be absolutely sure, Peter Pan was the first book I read from beginning till the end by myself (It wasn’t read to by my mother or my other family members). This is the book that sparkled my love for reading. Before that I only had love for stories but not for reading itself.

The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe. “Baron Munchausen's astounding feats included riding cannonballs, traveling to the Moon, and pulling himself out of a bog by his own hair.” Even though this story was originally a satirical work with political aims, for me, as a child, it was impossible and funny adventures, which gave a boost to my imagination.

In Search of the Castaways; or the Children of Captain Grant by Jules Verne. “A message in a bottle relays an urgent plea from the long-missing Captain Grant. His ship, the Britannia, has sunk. He is alive but is being held hostage. Captain Grant's children, Mary and Robert, along with their friend and benefactor Lord Glenervan launch a rescue expedition. But where do they begin their search? The original SOS message written in three languages is partially destroyed by sea water. The remaining fragments can be interpreted several ways. Only one clue is certain, Captain Grant is somewhere along the 37th parallel. Racing against time, risking their lives, the brave adventurers are determined to find and save the shipwrecked captain.” The high adventure in sea and on different continents, when I was thirteen, I read it, holding my breath.

Lisa and Lottie by Erich Kästner. The Parent Trap movie is loosely based on this book.“When they meet for the first time at summer camp, two ten-year-old girls discover they are twins and agree to exchange identities in an attempt to reconciliate their divorced parents.” This is a very touching and humorous story at the same time.

Various Fairy Tales by Aleksandr Pushkin, Charles Perrault and The Brothers Grimm.

Here we have a list of ten, but I still cannot finish this post without at least mentioning The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Jungle Book and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende and many more wonderful books that I love since my childhood and will always love and reread.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Blogger Holiday Swap Gifts

Friday, December 2, 2011

The package has arrived today from Alyce (At Home with Books). After almost tearing open the package, I found three beautifully wrapped parcels inside. You would have to believe me here, because I didn’t stop tearing at the box, so due to my enormous impatience I have no photographical proof of it. Here are my gifts:

  • Holiday Cookie Cutter and Towel Set – at first, I looked at cookie cutter and didn’t recognize what it was at once, after couple of wild guesses, I read the label and thought: “Hmm, this is going to be interesting.” You see, I don’t bake. No, not on a matter of principal, I just have never tried. After examining a towel closer, I found a very detailed recipe (thank you designers for considering even customers like myself, who had never rolled dough or greased baking sheet). So with this delightful discovery I thought that I might even try making Snowman Sugar Cookies.
  • I guess Alyce somehow knew that I don’t know how to bake. So just in case I won’t master a courage to bake myself, she sent me some Wafers with Chocolate Crème.
  • Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter. This is the second instalment in A Heist Society series. I liked the first book, it somewhat reminded me (not in terms of plot so much, as in overall impression) of How to Steal a Million movie with Audrey Hepburn.
  • Trapped by Michael Northrop. I wanted to read this book since I first heard about it, but somehow never got to getting it. A group of teenagers stuck at school during an awful snowstorm and things just starting to get bad – chilling – a perfect winter read.
  • Alyce also sent me her all time favorite - The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper. I have never hear about this book before, however synopsis sounds very interesting, somewhat reminding me of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I will definitely read it.
  • Last, but not least a very adorable card with Christmas stockings.
Thank you, Alyce, for such wonderful gifts.
Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!