Books Read in 2007 with comments

Here is what I've read so far this year. I'm always on the prowl for new authors--if you think we share the same taste in literature, please email me with your favorite authors/books. Happy reading!

Books listed in order read

Who Will Run the Frog Hospital by Laurie Moore

A re-read, but well worth it. Such a beautiful story about such an un-beatiful stage of life (teen years)

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

A Fuse #8 Production recommendation for good Y/A lit. A fun read, but I didn't really buy the ending. I hear there is a sequal which I'll read, but I'm not sure I want Gen to be royal, and not grubby.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Exquisite stories about the Nazi occupation of France, made all the more heartbreaking as the author was shipped to Auchwitz and never completed the intended last two "books" of the suite.

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

A fun follow up to The Thief but not a stand alone book.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson

All the kid lit blogs have been raving about this book with good reason. It takes incredible risks representing the clash of revolutionary politics, enlightenment philosophy and the conflicts of slavery. Whoo hoo! There will be a volume 2!

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Another fun follow up to The Thief but not a stand alone book.

Rules by Cynthia Lord

An excellent YA book (that really is a YA book) about a girl and her autistic brother.

The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu

A clever YA book (that really is a YA book) about a pair of cousins who find out that Greek mythology is, well, not a myth, but real. The head off to the Underworld to save their friends' stollen shadows from being used as an army to topple Hades. Clever, though at times a bit too similar to other books.

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

A clever YA fantasy book (first in a trilogy) about a young magician and the genie he controls. The vision of magic exercised in the book seems very like that in the adult book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell--magicians can only do things by conjuring up fairies, genies and the like and making them do their bidding.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A novel about a cluster of people swept up in the Nigerian/Biafra war. The boy, Ugwu, is beautifully realized.

After This by Alice McDermott

Another Long Island Catholic family told with sympathy and quiet grace by McDermott. Not a flashy book nor an attempt to cover everything in the family's history, rather it hones in on significant moments and yet manages to keep the book from feeling fragmented.

Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop

A nice YA novel about a girl stuck in the New England spinning factories and her realization that she does not have to submit to such a fate.

American Born Chinese by Gene Yang

A YA graphic novel that has been getting a lot of good press. Nice use of the monkey myths in Chinese folklore.

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes
This is the first novel I've read by Barnes. At first I thought I wouldn't be moved by a story about the intersection of a cautious nobody and a flagrant celebrity, but I was wrong. The book twined their two stories together beautifully and the huge gap between their two personalities and two belief systems was made close and even touching.

The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud
Number two in the trilogy. An entertaining read. The author definitely has something to say about ambition and the abuse of power--I'm interested to see how he resolves it in the third book.

Cod by Mark Kurlansky
Kinda interesting non-fiction of how cod fishing and shipping had a global socio-economic-political impact.

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell
Wonderful set of intertwined stories--each so vivid and true to the culture it represents, and so very diverse.

The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
Decent read set in Burma that made me crave fermented tea leaf salad, but it did a lot of "telling" and I wasn't really sure of the point of the book at the end.

The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis
Some lovely writing but didn't hold together as a whole. I couldn't figure out who the book was supposed to be about; too unfocused for me.

Water for the Elephants by Sara Gruen
Entertaining, but not memorable. Kind of predictable.

The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day
Excellent intertwined stories. Could stand alone, but build up to much more. Doesn't focus ont hye freakish part of circus culture but the humanity that lies beneath.

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
YA book about an environmental catastrophe. Very true teenage voice, interesting meditations on how you prioritize family vs friends and what is truly meaningful in life.

A Drowned Maiden's Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz
This YA book reminded me of Wolves of Willoughby Chase and I think I would have loved it when I was about 10 or 12. An orphan as the main character, insights into the trend of spiritualism in the early 20th C. And a happy ending. The book managed to avoid slipping into sentimentality and the main character was very well drawn.

The Unresolved by T.K.Welsh
This YA book annoyed me. Told from the perspective of a dead girl about a steam ship disaster in 1904 I felt like it was trying too hard to be poetic. And the ending was just weird.

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
OK YA book about Los Almos. Predictable.

Flight by Sherman Alexie
Decidedly not YA fiction--fantastic fiction for grown ups.

Venetian Stories
by Jane Turner Rylands
I enjoyed this set of linked stories set in Venice. I didn't think it was fantastic but it was a nice portrait of the city and helped revive memories of my travels there.

Lately by Sara Pritchard
Fantastic book of short stories. I made it half way through before finding any links between them (it says "linked stories" on the cover) but the second half drew lines between some of the stories. But I'd say all stand on their own merits too.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
Fantastic alternate reality of Jewish statehood mixed with hardboiled detective fiction mixed with Chabon's quirky humor.

The Last Dragon by Silvana de Mari
Wonderful YA book about a dragon and an elf and the mess that humanity makes of the world. Bright, wry writing with a quirky sense of humor. (Translated from the Italian.)

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Because it had to be read again before the next one comes out.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Of course.

The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
Beautiful novel intertwining three very different characters in WWII Wales.

Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
An engaging enough YA novel about time, time tornadoes and quantum physics. A bit heavy handed with the physics--starts feeling like a lecture at times--but still a fast and rather fun read.

North by Frederick Busch
A sequel to Girls, one of my favorite books. This one was ok. The writing struck me as more an imitation of Hemingway sparseness than genuine. And a lot of the book was really just reflecting back on the plot from Girls.

Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey
An ok YA book. The heroine struck me as a bit dense (it was pretty obvious that the prophecy meant something different than what she kept repeating) and it was completely inaccurate when it comes to Medieval cultural norms, but there were some nice moments when the heroine is off raising the baby dragons.

The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
I liked this YA novel a lot--very well thought out about the half-breed sons and daughters of the Greek gods in modern day America.

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner
I know this was highly recommended on some book blog I read (can't remember which one) but it was pretty dopey.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
This book was clever--sort of a cross between a graphic novel and a regular, unillustrated tale, but I didn't find the story all that compelling.

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Book two of the Percy Jackson YA series (see The Lightening Thief above). I still really like the series, and there is one more to read!

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
A nice YA novel. The imagined mountain village is very richly rendered and the main character is quite compelling.

The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea
WOW Best book I have read this year!

The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Book 3 of the Percy Jackson YA series--still a whole lot of fun. Glad there are more to come.

Austenland by Shannon Hale
Fun chic lit for the Jane Austen-ophile. Enough humor to make it fun, not soppy.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie's first YA book and a terrific read. Excellent book about self-esteem and being torn between two cultures.

Enna Burning by Sharon Hale
Excellent YA fiction. Beautiful writing about the appeal and danger of fire, strong female characters and clearly imagined kingdom.

Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
The book that came before Enna Burning. Really excellent YA fiction--the main character (again female) doesn't start the novel with confidence but gradually learns self-esteem, confidence and how to value what is important in the world. Definitely recommended for an adolescent girl reader.

Maynard and Jennica
by Rudolph Delson
A light, witty novel told through multiple view points. Borders on excessively cute at times (such as commentaries by inanimate objects) but still quite enjoyable.

River Secrets
by Shannon Hale
The third in the Goose Girl trilogy. Not my favorite, but still a fun read.

World Without End by Ken Follett
Because we all read trash sometimes. Trashy I expected it to be, and trashy it was!

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Really excellent YA novel about a boy living on Alcatraz in the 1930s. A moving portrayal of how his family dynamic is affected by his sister's autism. The whole thing rings true, from the portrayal of the sister, to the tensions in the household, to the main character's feelings. And, oh yea, it is also set on Alcatraz (where the main character's father is a guard) which might seem like it would make the book kitchy, but instead incorporates interesting historical material.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
by Gennifer Choldenko
Pretty good YA novel about race and class in contemporary Mill Valley.

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiments by James Patterson
Wow--what an exhilarating YA book! Snappy narrator and cool concept about kids who were mad scientist experiments and had avian DNA grafted onto their human DNA. I'm glad it is the first of a series--off to get the next one!

School's Out Forever by James Patterson
Book two of Maximum Ride--eventful, but not as compelling as Book 1.

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
I was a little frustrated that Fang's voice (when he did eventually start to speak and write) was almost identical to Max's. I wish the author had been able to differentiate them more, but it seems that he could only write one kind of cool-bird-kid.

An Abundance of Katherine's by Josh Green
Excellent YA novel--I wasn't taken with the whole theorem of relationships or the Katherine phenomenon anywhere as much as I was taken with the representation of teenage male friendship.

In Progress reading--check to see if they make it to the first list or get dropped down to the abandoned list....

Heat by Bill Buford
Fun non-fiction food writing.

The sad list of abandoned books....

Anagrams by Lorrie Moore
I got 4 chapters into this quirky book and then got frustrated.

Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
The writing is kind of crappy though I liked the medieval history. But the writing wore me down.

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

Leaden writing and two kind of annoying teen age characters make this YA book too dull to finish.

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