Twentieth, Twenty-First, and Twenty-Second Five Books of 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 by Audrey
96. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins. Finished October 1. 3 hours, 391 pages.

Sooo good. I love this series (this is number two; the final book comes out next year). Katniss has won the Hunger Games, and this story follows her back to her hometown, where she must try to live a normal life while convincing the watching Council members that her love for Peeta, which she feigned to keep both of them from being killed during the Hunger Games, is real. Awesome, awesome. Love the characters.

97. Hope Was Here, by Joan Bauer. Finished October 1. 4 days, 186 pages.

To be honest, I'm all Joan Bauer'ed out at the moment. I remember liking this enough to read it while I was on the treadmill, but all of her books kind of follow the same formula--girl faces new challenges and learns to deal with them with poise and strength. It's a good formula, but it gets a little old when you try to read all of Bauer's books in the same month. I recommend it. I think.

98. She Went All the Way, by Meg Cabot. Finished October 5. 1 day, 354 pages.

Wow, I had forgotten that Meg Cabot started out as a romance novelist. Unbelievably cheesy, but I still couldn't put it down. Mostly to see how much more cheesy it could get. Warning--explicit sex scenes. I had to skip them. There are some things that should just be kept private, Meg! That's what I think. Not recommended for that reason. And for the cheese.

99. Thwonk, by Joan Bauer. Finished October 6. 1 day, 215 pages.

Another Joan Bauer. Was this the one where the main character tried to rebuild her relationship with her long lost hermit of an aunt? Or the one where Cupid visits and shoots her crush with a love arrow? It was good, I think, but it obviously wasn't memorable.

100. The Children of Men, by P.D. James. Finished October 12. 1 week, 241 pages.

Main idea: In a world where all of the women have abruptly stopped having children for an unknown reason, how does society react? P.D. James is a great writer. Her sentences are beautiful and I kept reading just to read her writing. But the narrator didn't really grab me and I didn't feel very sympathetic to his plight. Eh. It was fine. I finished it, didn't I?

101. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, by Jessica Day George. Finished October 13. 2 hours, 328 pages.

A retelling of "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." I'm a sucker for good fairy-tale retelling, and this was no exception. The family connections felt real and the quest was touching and effective. Recommended.

102. Academy 7, by Anne Osterlund. Finished October 13. 2 hours, 259 pages.

Honestly, I liked it, but even right after reading it I couldn't really figure out what the main conflict was. Academy 7 is a school for the best and brightest in the galaxy, and the two main characters are outcasts there who bond together and start to search for information about their parents' pasts. The main character was trying to find information about her mother? That was pretty much it. There was no urgency to it, and it felt like once I reached the end, nothing had really happened, beyond the two main characters falling in love with each other. I love YA lit for that, but it does need a little bit more.

103. Swim the Fly, by Don Calame. Finished October 13. 2 hours, 345 pages.

YA lit that's geared towards boys, for once! I have to admit that I'm woefully unread in boy's lit, except for the complete works of Chris Crutcher. This one was okay. The premise: Three best friends try to make a goal for the year to see a real live girl naked. That's really not central to the plot, though. The main character (whose name I can't remember, what a surprise!) sets a goal to swim the butterfly in his town's swim competitions to impress a girl. He learns more about himself and eventually grows up enough to notice the girl who has been right under his nose the whole time. It was cute.

104. Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son, by Michael Chabon. Finished October 18. 4 days, 306 pages.

Michael Chabon is so, so good. This collection of short autobiographical fiction explore the modern definitions of manhood and ways that he has put them into practice in his relationship with his parents, his wife, and his children. 100% awesome; highly recommended.

105. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman. Finished October 18. 2 hours, 201 pages.

The main character gets into a car accident and is in a coma. Her spirit watches over her body in the hospital and explores her relationships with the people she loves, as she tries to decide whether to stay on the earth or leave. I liked it a lot.

106. Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends, by William "Wild Bill" Guarnere and Edward "Babe" Heffron, with Robyn Post. Finished October 18. 3 hours, 284 pages.

So, so good. A few weeks ago, I watched the HBO series "Band of Brothers", about the 101st Airborne Division during WWII, and LOVED it. It was like 11 hours long, but as soon as it was over I popped the first disc in to watch it again (Just for the record, I've been working on some super-secret Christmas presents that are fairly time intensive, so I watch a lot of TV while I'm working on them. I try not to watch that much normally.). Anyway, I loved it. So I was looking at the show's Wikipedia page, and there are a lot of books written by the members of the company. This is one of many that I'm sure I'll try to finish this year. I picked it up at like 10 at night on a Sunday night, thinking I would just read a few pages before bed. Nope. Finished it at 1 in the morning and was useless at work the next day (actually, I may have called in? Anyway. Not relevant). It was awesome to read the first-hand stories of the things I had seen in the miniseries. Totally recommended, if you're at all interested in the history of the European Front during WWII.

107. Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher. Finished October 20. 1 hour, 163 pages (ill.)

Carrie Fisher, of Star Wars fame, is a funny, funny woman. This memoir covers the same ground as her live show in New York (which was reviewed beautifully by Sheila O'Malley here). She faces the difficult situations in her life with grace and humor. Loved it. Another quick 10 pm read.

108. Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld. Finished October 21. 3 days, 425 pages.
In a society after the collapse of oil, teenagers who reach the age of 16 are given an operation to make them Pretties. Uglies (the under-16 crowd) hope and dream of this operation their whole lives; after the operation, they move to a new city, get new friends, and live lives of leisure. But an opposition group sets up in the mountains far away, where they don't get the operation. Tally (the main character) is torn between the two. It was good, not great.

109. The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood. Finished October 25. 3 days, 434 pages.

Margaret Atwood is another completely fabulous writer. This sequel to Oryx and Crake describes the aftermath of an apocalyptic plague from a different point of view, that of the group of God's Gardeners, an extreme environmentalist religion. It was great, as all of her works are. Read Oryx and Crake first and then read this immediately after, so you don't lose track of who the characters are.

110. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. Finished October 25. 1/2 day, 471 pages.

Lovely. In a world where some people are blessed with Graces, or huge talents, Katsa is blessed/cursed with the Grace of killing. This is her story of a quest, with another Graced fighter, to depose an evil king. Loved it.
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