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Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking for a Good Read? Some Keepers and Stinkers

I had several people ask me what I read this past year that was good, of the 99 books I managed to read in '09: 5 books short of my goal.

I do keep track of the books that I read and give them a rating: Keeper, Good, Okay, and then Stinkers.

The majority tend to end up in the "Good" category. I'm not that hard to please.

A lot fall into the "okay" category, too.

For a book to fall into the "Keeper" category, it's a book that I'd actually want to own and reread, instead of just checking out from the library.(I want to thank Carol for telling me that I'm not cheap for using the library, I'm being GREEN. I love that.)

For it to be a "stinker," it has to really stink. Otherwise, I give it some benefit of the doubt and let it go in the "okay" category.

This is just of the books I read in '09, so it's not a "best of EVER" list, but here are the books that I read last year that I consider KEEPERS.

You should also note that this is just pleasure reading for the most part, so if it's lighter and fluffier than your tastes, I apologize. I did used to be a lit. minor and I know I should scoff at some of these books, but I can't help it: they're FUN.

Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson: I LOVED this book. There are some truly memorable characters in it. It made me think, it made me cry(just a little), and it made me smile.

Will You Be There? by Buillaume Musso: this was a translation and I really thought that I wouldn't like it for some reason, but not only was it a keeper, but it was one of my favorite keepers. HOWEVER, there is a very slow build up to this one- stick with it until the point where Eliot tells his younger self why Ilena dies(no, this isn't a spoiler, you know from the start that she died).

What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: again, probably one of my top favs, because it was just so much fun.

The Help by Katherine Stockett: I read this for book club and was surprised by just how much I loved this book. Usually, if a book gets rave reviews, I end up disappointed, but I loved this one! And, if you are trying to curb your appetite for chocolate cake, go read this book and it will cure you.

Some groupings of books that are also good:

Return to Summerhouse and Lavender Morning by Jude Deveraux : you don't have to read The Summerhouse to read the return, though I highly recommend it. The first one was one of my favorite books, ever.

By Nicholas Sparks: whom I once stalked and waited in line for 3 hours to have him sign my books and get a pic taken with him...with my 2 month-old in tow. I didn't read all his books this year, but of the ones that I did read, these are the ones that are keepers: Nights in Rodanthe, The Last Song, and The Notebook. I really need to reread Dear John, as it was on my stinkers list in a previous year, but I know that I let my personal feelings with the storyline get in the way of the quality of the story.

I did read all of Jodi Piccoult's books this year(some were a reread). Of those, these were the ones that were Keepers: Second Glance, Perfect Match, Vanishing Acts, Handle With Care, and My Sister's Keeper(do NOT getting me going on the terrible, horrible changes that were made from book to movie. It's a good thing I was warned about this ahead of time and didn't go see it in the theater, unknowing, because I would have pitched my popcorn at the screen while everyone else looked at me like I was crazy).

On the suggestion of a friend, I read the Blackbird Sisters Mysteries Series by Nancy Martin and I did enjoy it. Some of the books were keepers and some were just "good," but if you like cozies, I'd recommend them.

I did read the Twilight series this year, but didn't rate them all as keepers. Some, but not all. Should I be scared of some of you for that?

I reread all the Harry Potter books and still love them, too. You want to see magic? I saw these books make middle schoolers who claimed they didn't like to read voluntarily choose to read a book that was 800+ pages. That's magic.

Now, for the Stinkers.

There's only a few. Like I said, a lot tend to fall in the middle for me and I usually find something redeeming in a book. But, in these, nope, sorry, didn't happen.

The Return: Nightfall by L.J. Smith I LOVED The Vampire Diaries when they came out in the early 90s. LOVED them. But, this book came out last year, I guess to try to benefit from the Twilight-craze. However, it failed miserably. The first books(actually, the first 3- the 4th was a little questionable...) were great love stories. But, this just went off the darkside deep end. Not to mention that the author tries to pretend like the story is happening right after the ones from the 90s...and it just doesn't work at all. Not going to read any more if they come out. This actually breaks my heart, since I LOVED these books as a 14 year-old.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout Here's what I wrote about it right after I finished this one: No, no, no, do not waste your time. This book has gotten good literary reviews, but for the average reader: slow and depressing and even uninteresting at times. Not even sad in a make-you-have-a-good-cry sort of way, just flat out depressing.

The Glass Castle by Jeanenette Walls I know this is a controversial choice, because not only do the reviewers love it, but so do most people I know. To me, it's just depressing and makes me so angry. I wouldn't have finished it had it not been for book club.

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand Yeah, so you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but this one's cover made me think I'd love this book. Three girls standing on the beach, jeans rolled up, barefoot, big towel around the 3 of them. I don't really even remember much about this book, other than I rated it a stinker and since I only rated 4 books out of 99 this year as stinkers, that has to say something.

So, there you have it. My keepers and stinker for '09.

Do you have any to add to my lists?

Any books you suggest I read? (aiming a little lower this year- 52 books)

Any I should stay away from?

Share, share, share!!!!

I'm on Twitter now: click on my Twitter button over there on the side to find me...and then maybe you can tell me what the heck I'm supposed to be doing on there.

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Blogger Liz Mays said...

I'm so glad you did that! I'm taking notes on your keepers. I read My Sister's Keeper and I loved that book so much. I am not going to see the movie because like you, I heard it was a total fail.

January 4, 2010 at 7:28 AM  
Blogger The Mommyologist said...

I love to read and will have to add some of these to my list. I read Sarah's Key this year and really loved that. And there was some other book by Anne Rivers Seldon...I'd have to go dig it out of the back of the closet.

I have no idea what I'm doing on Twitter either, so let me know if you figure it out! :)

January 4, 2010 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm writing them down. I'm not on twitter yet so I can't help you there.

January 4, 2010 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger danita said...

i love your book idea/resolution! i'm going to try, too! thanks for the list--i like fun, easy stuff, too!

January 4, 2010 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Queenie Jeannie said...

Great list, many I hadn't heard of! I'm a huge lover of books myself. Austen anything of course is always a "must read". I think I might do something like this on my blog....Hmmmmm.....

January 4, 2010 at 8:19 AM  
Blogger Kmama said...

Do you enjoy reading books that are "just fun" type books? If so, I highly recommend Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. They are the "One for the Money", "Two for the Dough", etc. books. She is up to #15 right now. They are funny, easy reads and just entertain my overly tired brain.

January 4, 2010 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Mandee said...

I just watched My Sister's Keeper and now I want to go get the book! Everyone keeps telling me the book is so much better. I cried through the whole movie though!

Great post! I need to read more in 2010. :)

January 4, 2010 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger T.J. said...

I read through the entire Harry Potter series when I was pregnant because my friends said I wouldn't be a good mother if I didn't and I'm still avoiding "My Sister's Keeper" because I know it will tear me up way too much!! Thanks for the great list :)

January 4, 2010 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger kel said...

I adored The Help!!! Best book I read last year!!!!

January 4, 2010 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger w said...

thanks so much for your list! i'm *always* looking for books to read!

i'm currently on the harry potter series... but you know. this year, i read the percy jackson series. yes, it's a children's series. but so is harry. that's my justification. also. i'm childlike. and anywhoo... i loved it (the percy jackson series).

have a great new year! will def check out those books after i finish harry!

January 4, 2010 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love anything by James Patterson. I love the Cross series and cant wait to read the new one "I Alex Cross"

January 4, 2010 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Simply Stacie said...

I also love Jodi Picoult. Thanks for the suggestions!

January 4, 2010 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

I love the Harry Potter series, too! Jodi Piccoult and Nicholas Sparks are great. Have you read, "The Choice" by Sparks? I seriously bawled my eyes out. But in a good way.

I also read Shutter Island, by Dennis Lehane (wrote Mystic River.) Very good read if you are into suspense.

I can't believe you read 99 books last year. That is awesome. My goal is to read one a month this year. I just started South of Broad, by Pat Conroy. We'll see!

January 4, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger Tracie said...

Oh no! I just bought Olive Kitteridge on Saturday. (I do the library, too but I had a Borders gift card.)

I loved What I Did For Love, too. Have you read any other Susan Elizabeth Phillips books? She is great if you like romance novels. I've read them all.

I've also read all the Jodi Piccoult books. Have you read any Anite Shreve? Her newer stuff isn't that good but some of the older ones are excellent.

I could go on and on. (Obvs.)

January 4, 2010 at 10:06 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I highly recommend Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series. It is probably my all-time favorite series of books EVER. I have read each of them twice and listened to them on audiobook (which I would also recommend so you can hear the Gaelic spoken the way it is supposed to sound instead of that strange way it sounds in my head when I read the words).

January 4, 2010 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Working Mommy said...

I wish I had the time to read as much as you did :/...oh well...maybe this year?!


January 4, 2010 at 10:42 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I love Jodi Picoult. I have a stash of her books waiting to be read! I also really liked Joshilyn Jackson's The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, it was one of my faves this year, so I recommend it as a keeper! I did like Barefoot, though, so we differ there. I read that last year. Anyway, thanks for the tips!

January 4, 2010 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Eternal Lizdom said...

I love you for not liking Glass Castles... I hated that book. I thought it was drivel and forced and phoney and pushy and... ugh.

I also loved The Help. Very powerful and moving and inspiring. A must read, IMO.

I'm a fan of Piccoult- haven't read one I didn't like and have read several that I really love. Didn't see the movie, heard the ending was vastly different, not sure if/when I will see it.

I tried getting into Twilight. Read the first 2 books. I think the writing is atrocious and the storyline... I just don't like the characters. So I haven't read any further.

For Christmas, I got "Push." That's the book that the movie "Precious" comes from. I read it in a day. It was awesome. Some parts hard to read... but so hopeful.

I'm just starting on "Say You're One of Them."

I started reading the series that True Blood is based on- I've only read the first book but it was great and I'm eager for more.

I want to get back to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.

January 4, 2010 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I LOVED The Vampire Diaries too. I haven't read the newest one. I bought my girls The Secret Circle and my youngest loves it.

I was pretty ticked off too about the changes in My Sisters Keeper.

I've been looking at the the Dollar Store for books so I don't spend so much.
The book "Rattled" pretty good. About a rich, spoled women who forces her family to move to a well to do neighborhood for show.

And Twilight, the only way I could read it was to put myself back into being a 13 year old girl.

January 4, 2010 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger Amy @ Marvelous Mommy said...

I really don't read a lot but I thought about reading the Twilight series. Everyone is so crazy about it.

I think I would like the Harry Potter books. I like the movies that I've seen.

January 4, 2010 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I love your lists! I too am a big reader...it's getting in the way of my blogging:) I have to tell you I just finished the Glass Castle and couldn't put it down. I loved it!

January 4, 2010 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Best book I read in 2009 other than Twilight series would be The Sweet By and BY. LOVED IT! Made me cry...bad.

I am also reading the Sookie Stackhouse series. It is about the superbatural...werewolves and vamps but it is a lighter read than Twilight. HBO series First Blood was based onthese books. I have never seen the series but my mom and daughter love it. From what I can get from them...the series does not go with the books. THAT drives me nuts!
Loved Harry Potter!!!!!

I need to catch up on Nicholas Sparks.
I think I'm going to try and keep up with what I read this year. I read a lot.

January 4, 2010 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger gina said...

I read Barefoot and disliked it too. i did klike the Glass Castle for it 's writing but the truth of the story was painful to read! I HATED book two of twilight but loved the movie. I love Jodi Picoult , except The Whale one, I forget the name. That one was long and boring in my opinion. I am SO looking forward to Barbara Delinsky's Not My Daughter- inspired by a local news story here in MA about a suspected pact to get pregnant when a group of teen girls from the high school all trun up pregnant at the same time! I just read The Lovely Bones (Ibetter late than AFTER the movie. ;) ) and I finished it in less than 24 hours. It got a little wacky for me during the love scene... until then I was loving it.

January 4, 2010 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Elle said...

I totally agree with you on My Sister's Keeper! I was so glad someone "ruined" the ending of the movie for me so that I knew not to go see it. I also agree on the Glass Castle. It isn't often that I'll say I hated a book, but I hated that one.

Unfortunately I don't have recommendations for you, because all I've read lately are textbooks! Happy reading in 2010.

January 4, 2010 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger The Grasshoppa:Triplets Plus Two Momma said...

Reading is my second love.

I rarely read fluff, but do appreciate that it has it's place in the world!

A few of my favorites:

John Steinbecks EAST OF EDEN

Cormac McCarthy All The Pretty Horses

Pillars of the Earth: Ken Follett

I could go on and on and on....

My bookclub is reading The World According To Garp at the moment (John Irving).

I'll let you know on that one!

oh, and I had some awards to pass along to you, but I see you have been given them already! So now you are quadrupely loved!

January 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger Tammy said...

I am going to write your keepers down...I love a good book. I loved Twilight! Maybe I am reliving my younger years. I just finished the Sookie Stackhouse series. I am waiting for the last book to be released in paperback. I really liked her series. A little more grown up than Twilight. I am reading Host by Stephanie Meyer right now. A little hard to get into but now that I am in it, it's getting good!

January 4, 2010 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Masala Chica said...

I am going to have to read some of your suggestions - thanks for the great list Shell! I am reading The Help right now - its wonderful.

January 4, 2010 at 3:45 PM  
Blogger beenomom said...

Great post idea, one of my favs from this past year was "She's Come Undone". I can't tremember who wrote it, but it is written by a man. I adored this book and was blown away by the fact that the writer was a man. Have you read it? If not, definately a good read!

January 4, 2010 at 3:49 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

I finally got The Help and can't wait to read it. I love Jodi Picoult but some are better than others and I have to agree with your choices. Love Harry Potter and hate Twilight. I did like The Glass Castle but I'm not offended that you didn't:)

January 4, 2010 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger G said...

helloooo I'm new here. Hi.
I've needed some hot reads for my boring brain. THank you!

ps following you now!!

January 4, 2010 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Bibi @ Bibi's Culinary Journey said...

I love to read, but unfortunately last year was bad for reading and I managed to do only about 10 while camping 4 times.

On the other hand my 12 year old finished reading before Christmas the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare - City of Bones, City of Ashes and City of Glass and my girlfriend and her daughter are reading it now and can't put it down so I can't wait to have them back.

As a Christmas gift he got A House Of Night series by P.C. and Kristin Cast - Marked, Betrayed,Chosen,Untamed, Hunted and Tempted. He's on number 4 as of this morning so I think they are keepers as well.

January 4, 2010 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Ducky said...

I'm an avid reader as well. Although I've found that since starting to blog I've cut way back on the volume of books I get through weekly. Some time back I started keeping a spreadsheet of the the books I'd read just so I wouldn't look at a title or author and wonder if I'd read them before. I could just look it up...unfortunately despite my best efforts my lists fell waaaaaay behind. I do find myself reading mostly for pleasure now. Life is too serious for me to read depressing novels or non-fiction although I know there is good material out there. And I'm a LIBRARY CARD user to the nth degree. It's the best ever! I don't typically reread a book so to buy one is akin to burning money which I doubt anyone can afford to do right now.

Thanks for highlighting your reads in 2009! Check out Alexis at Running Away? I'll Help You Pack blog...her button is on mine, she has great book giveaways! I received 6 books in the last two weeks that I've won by entering her giveaways. Just and idea....

January 4, 2010 at 5:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stinkers - I like calling them that. 52 books?? Wow, you do like to read. I hate to say that I haven't been reading much at all.

I'm following you on Twitter. My best advice is to follow others and interact. It's really fun. Glad you're there.

p.s. Check out the help stuff Twitter offers to learn more about replies vs. direct messages vs. mentions, etc.

January 4, 2010 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

Stopping by from SITS! Have a great day! :)

Just wanted to let you know about my button swap and the chance for your blog to be featured! Check it out:

January 4, 2010 at 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dont we all just want to see magic?

read about it?

live it?

sure we do.... *winks*

January 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Helene said...

I just read the Glass Castle and I totally agree with you. It was a depressing story that obviously needed to be told but still...I don't get the rave reviews about it, honestly.

I love Jodi Picoult...I've read all her books and I can never get enough. I refused to see My Sister's Keeper too after I learned how many changes they made, plus I just couldn't picture Cameron Diaz as the mom.

I wrote down some of the books you recommended to see if the library has them. Thanks for sharing!

January 4, 2010 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger adrienzgirl said...

Shell thanks for sharing your lists! I read a bunch too, and I am always looking for something good.

I don't like depressing, unless it is true crime. I read a boatload of that. Not really sure why, other than I am fascinated by the psychology of the criminal mind. They all seem to be ridiculously smart.

I love Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series. It's a grown up version of Buffy the Vampire slayer. They are not for the faint of heart or easily offended though. It's written as first person, from the vampire hunter's point of view and they are quite gory at times. The first few are a little dated. Written early 90s so the technology is way behind. Nevertheless, I found myself getting lost in her worlds. She writes and speaks like I think.

Oh, and the sex gets a little...um....graphic. There isn't any until book 6, but after that, it's slathered on thick, and it is...graphic.

January 4, 2010 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger Alexis AKA MOM said...

I absolutely LOVE all the black bird sister books! I so want a vintage wardrobe like her!

Have you read Diane Mott Davidson, she has an awesome serious about a caterer that always ends up in the wrong place and solves the murder. Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery. Plus my favorite part every books has several recipes in them! I've made a few and love them! :)

January 5, 2010 at 12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

now following on twitter...

actually, thats a lie, I am going to follow you after I finish posting this comment.

I really want to read these, I just dont know how much time I will have but they seem like really good choices!

also, I am a twitard. I dont hate you, lol.

January 5, 2010 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you so much for directing me to this post! Definitely browsing them out now.


January 12, 2010 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger MommyBrain said...

Just order Between, Georgia from paperbackswap.com ... and I'd recommend Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

Thanks :)

January 18, 2010 at 2:01 AM  
Blogger BJ_Mama said...

Thanks! I NEVER NEVER want to read a Stinker again! Now I have some Keepers I could read too ;)

January 18, 2010 at 5:35 AM  
Blogger StarGazer722 said...

I love your lists. I saw that someone else had already mentioned Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett- I second this recommendation. I've read a lot of the books you mentioned as keepers so I think you would really enjoy this one as well.

January 30, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

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