What I'm Reading

Update: Click here to see all the latest recommended lists! That will take you to all the posts labeled books...

Almost a year's worth of reads...
I am done recording everything that I read; if I find a great book, I'll blog about it, and I'll also blog our book club lists - those have been some of the most interesting ones I've read all year.

March 2012
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie - I did have an inkling of the culprit, but she does implicate every one of the suspects and keeps you guessing!
The Price of Fame by Carolyne Aarsen - A light read with likable characters.
The Promise Remains and The Watermark by Travis Thrasher - Two novellas in one book; I quite enjoyed them both.  Good love stories with appealing characters facing believable problems.
Under Orders by Dick Francis - Good as always.
The Healer's Heart by Diane M. Komp - You can probably find something more coherent to read.  Jumps all around and hits on too many major issues.
Admission by Travis Thrasher - I didn't realize this was the same author when I picked it up, but within the first couple pages it seemed similar to the ones I had just read.  I also realized I had read it before, but didn't remember the outcome, so I read it again.

February 2012
Pompeii by T.L. Higley -  I really enjoyed this one; a good historical fiction piece.  I will look for more of her works.
The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie - This was the last story in the 1920s Omnibus; next I'll get out the one from the 1930s. 
The Road Home  by  Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olsen - This was a good read.  It's a modern day retelling of the book of Ruth, and kept my interest the whole way through.  I'd read more by them (which is a good thing, because I got another by them from the library at the same time).
Sometimes a Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner - It was a good story, but the characters were all odd.  A realistic look at how people change.  Didn't grab me, but I could appreciate it, I guess.
4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie - Another win for the grand dame of mystery.  You never know till right at the end!
Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors - I enjoyed this month's book club read.  It dealt with the building of the Taj Mahal, and I enjoyed the history lesson about a place I am not so familiar with.  The fiction was decent, and the no-so-believable parts were forgivable for the sake of story & the happy wrap up.
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger - A classic that a friend was reading so I jumped on the bandwagon.  (#minibookclub).  I quite liked Holden Caulfield's ramblings... you feel sorry for the guy, but he's interesting at the same time.  Keeps you wondering.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen - I thoroughly enjoyed this one.  It's set in the world of the circus in the depression, so painted a fascinating picture.  I wouldn't let my 12 year old read it, though, on account of the sexiness.

January 2012
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee -  This month's book club read.  I read it a long time ago, and it was good again.  I found it a little hard to get into, but it is a really good book.
The Baby Names Almanac by Emily Larson - Well, I didn't read ALL of it, but most of the names... We've got a short list, and just in time!
By the Light of a Thousand Stars by Jamie Langston Turner - I wasn't sure I would get into this one; the characters were not pleasant people.  But it turned out to be a good story.  Told from the perspectives of four different characters, it had a unique way of addressing all angles of the main issues. 
Odds Against by Dick Francis - A one day read.  Yesterday was nice and relaxing; a good day to sit with my feet up and enjoy a good book.  I'm on a Francis kick with these new editions out & am planning on plowing through a whole bunch this year.  Enjoyable and easy. 
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - A delightful read!  I recommend this one.  Set just after WW2, and written all in letters, it carries along lively is and very interesting.
Whip Hand by Dick Francis - A perfect 'staying up in the middle of the night to time contractions' read.  
Straight by Dick Francis - This is a sit around and read time of life... and this was another good one. 
Risk by Dick Francis
High Stakes by Dick Francis 
All Through the Night by Davis Bunn - This was pretty good.  It unfolded slowly, but the main character was one that took a while to know, so I guess that was forgivable.  Probably even unintentionally.  A read I wanted to get back to.  
Double Minds by Terri Blackstock - She's a good story teller; I usually enjoy her work.  This one had to do with a songwriter and the Christian music scene in Nashville.  
Come to Grief by Dick Francis 
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - This was our book club read, and a good read it was. One to make you think about how you live and think about things and treat people.  
All I'll Ever Need  by Harry Kraus, MD  - I wish I knew this was the third book in a series before I started.  There was no indication of that, but the whole book kept referring back to other events enough that I thought it could easily make up two books.  Apparently it was three.  Enough drama for a whole season of a soap opera.  Unbelievable. 
The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie - I liked the characters in this one. She`s got a fabulous imagination.
December 2011
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller -  This month's book club read.  Interesting commentary on war and having to fight, and comical at the same time.  It was on so many 'must read' lists that I had to pick this one - glad I can check it off, now, and glad I read it.
Anathema by Colleen Coble - One from the Christian Fiction shelf, about an Amish girl and some murders.  It was mostly good, but at times predictable and at times thin. 
The Guardians by Jack Cavanaugh - A good read.  Lots of dead bodies by the end, and a predictable 180 turnaround for the main character, but entertaining.
Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie - I was sort of right about who-dun-it, but of course there are so many layers in her books...  Another good one. 
Trial Run by Dick Francis - Always a good read.  And I don't think I've read this one before.  Nice suprise.
Wild Horses by Dick Francis - The library had a bunch of 2011 new editions, so I picked up a few. This one I have read before, but it's been a long time.  His books are always good for an evening with your feet up.  Especially when your legs are swollen because you're eight months pregnant.  :)
The Language of Secrets by  Dianne Dixon - Interesting read about a man who is trying to uncover secrets of his past, interspersed with chapters about his parents and about his childhood.  Lots of twists and sadness, but interesting. 
Driving Force by Dick Francis - The last one of the three I picked up... and then I got some more.
Twice Shy by Dick Francis - A little strange that there is a 14 year break in the middle of the book and each half focuses on a different character, but it works.

November 2011
The Worst Thing by Aaron Elkins -  I found this one on the new book shelf.  It was about a kidnapping and the man who goes through it all.  It was quite good, and had nothing inappropriate!
Cape Disappointment by Earl Emerson - Like the one above, a new author and random selection.  Also like the one above, a good read & quite satisfying!
The Last Place I Want to Be by P. Buchanan - This one was recommended at the back of If Only You Knew (read last month), and like that, was a good read, but while that was teen fiction, this seemed to be younger teen fiction.  I recommended it to my 12 year old to read when I was done.
City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell - A good read about the lives of missionaries in China.  I enjoyed the characters as well as the portrayal of China at the turn of the century.  Interesting.  Thanks, Auntie Jan for the recommendation!
The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie - I picked up a 1920's Omnibus (a book containing reprints of a number of works according to Mirriam-Webster); this was the first in that.  Good stuff.  Reading the language of London in the 20's is like reading another culture for sure - entertaining.
The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie - another good one.  Great main character.

October 2011
Wuthering Heights by Emile Bronte - A classic, sure, but strange.  Nobody there to cheer for.  Glad I read it, though, just so I can cross it off all the lists I've collected of books everyone should read.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams -  A book club pick... I give it a 5 out of 10 for holding my interest.  Funny thing is I got the film tie-in edition, so I thought I had a third of the book to go, and poof, it was over - the end third was all about making the movie and interviews with the cast.  Did not read all that.
If Only You Knew by Mags Storey - I enjoyed this.  Teenage just-graduated characters, and themes that fit that age, but a fun story.
The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno -  Ooh... A non-fiction!  I do pick up more non-fiction books, but usually skim them or just read parts, so don't list them on here.  This one I read cover to cover.  I like the idea of paring down, of not being a consumer - I wouldn't try this challenge, though, simply because I already live it.  Not the 100 thing part, specifically, but I have a hard time spending on things I need let alone things I simply want.  A good read.
Sushi for One? by Camy Tang - Not bad; not great.  Pretty funny in parts, and it got better near the end. 
Sisters, Ink by Rebecca Seitz - Like the one above, this one was from the Christian shelf at the library, and was a nice light read.  Sometimes it bothers me when the whole plot could be a non-issue if only the main character would spit out the problem.  But hey, it kept me entertained for a few hours.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie - This month's book club read - I've discovered a new treasure!  I'm sure I've read some of her works before, but I am going to hunt down more of these soon.  So good. 

September 2011
The Color Purple by Alice Walker - I can see why it won a Pulitzer, as it deals with many issues in post slavery culture.  Not one I'd let my 12 year old read, for the sexuality in it.
Tandem by Tracey Bateman -  A Christian vampire book?  Really?  It wasn't that bad, actually.
Divine Appointments by Charlene Ann Baumbich - Light reading.  Good enough for killing time when I was tired.
The Micah Judgement by Jim Kraus - This was not bad - Christian, international virus threat, good guys and bad guys...
The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne - A classic; I'm trying to fit more of these 'must reads' into my book time.  Some tough slogging, but I love the depth with which some of these old writers wrote.  Worth reading.
Dark Room by Andrea Kane - Madeline got me this book and a coffee table book about some region in Italy for my birthday.  I'm not sure where she picked them up, but I suspect they were garage sale rejects somewhere.  My birthday was a long time ago - it's taken me a while to see if this was going to be worth reading.  Surprise!  I enjoyed it.  And she got to see me reading the gift she got me.  Win win.
Almost Forever by Deborah Raney - A good read.  I couldn't put it down, although it may have been more to do with being lazy than how gripping the book was.  One with tragedy and romance.

August 2011
The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim - A very good read.  I enjoy fiction set in historical settings in other cultures - I find it educational as well as entertaining.  This one is in Korea in the early 1900's.  5/5  (Note: I wrote a tweet saying this was a good book, and Eugenia Kim sent me an email saying thank you for the good words!)
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson - The second in a trilogy that I'm sure you've seen on  your library shelves.  I read the first one and enjoyed the plot - enjoyed the characters, too, although they're so far away from having anything in common with my life of yours that the rawness and sexuality seemed a bit much.  I left it a long while before I read the second.  Similarly, I enjoyed this one, but would hesitate to recommend it to anyone.  Just sayin'.  Because the sexuality was confined to one section and didn't permeate most of the story, I have gone ahead and reserved the third.
Crossfire by Dick Francis and Felix Francis - I mentioned last month that I had this one on hold.  I have to say, though, that I didn't enjoy it as much as their others.  The main characters in these books is usually an upstanding moral person... this one didn't seem nearly as likable to me.  Hard to sympathize.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson - a good finish to the series.  This one was more crime solving and less relational than the others; still gripping, but less to make you avert your eyes.
I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark - these next few were deliberate new tries from the library.  Authors I saw a lot of, but had never read.  I figured I'd give them a try to see what I thought.  This one I could probably leave on the shelf and still live a full life.  Not a bad story, but somewhat shallow, and no likeable characters with depth.
Black Hills by Nora Roberts - I liked this one much better.  Characters, mostly, but the plot was decent, too.  Backwards sex, though - jumping in bed while trying to figure out what their relationship is instead of the way it should be - figure it out first, commit, marry, then enjoy the bed.  Amazing how many people don't know that.  Characters and authors.
Relentless by Dean Koontz - Another good one by Koontz.  I loved the main characters and the way so much of the book was off the wall crazy but still so matter of fact.  I won't be putting his whole bibliography on hold at the library, but I will read more by him once in a while.
Forty to Life by Dave Jackson - Interesting novel about a boy going through the prison system in Chicago.  Different style of writing, but the pages flew. 
Dear Me by Gaylynne Sword - I almost left this one on the shelf after reading a few sample pages, but it was worth the read.  Told in journal style as a girl is going through counseling, it is a powerful story about the choices we make and how we don't need to believe the voices in our heads.
The Ambition by Lee Strobel - Decent crime / coverup / political novel. 

July 2011
World Without End by Ken Follett - I read one book by Follett a while ago, which I enjoyed, then picked up another by him, Pillars of the Earth, only to find that it was a break from his regular genre.  I probably enjoyed it more than the first one.  This one is a sequel to Pillars, set in the same town 200 years later - England in the 1300's.  I quite enjoy a fiction story that teaches history at the same time.  This one had so many set backs for the main characters that it got depressing, but I stuck it out of course, and it was well worth it. 
Where the River Ends by Charles Martin - He is such a great author.  Excellent character depth.  This is the third of his that I've read, I think, and they were all winners. 
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - I could NOT get into this one and quit after the third chapter.  Interesting that this one was a Man Booker Prize Winner, just like the Sentimentalists that I read last month. Guess I won't be watching for that as a recommendation anymore!  The writing style was just not easy to follow.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck - Excellent.  I will be hunting down more of his work.  This was our book club summer read; we always pick the longest one to be the summer read.  I couldn't put it down and finished in a week. 5/5
Summer Snow by Nicole Baart - Not bad.  Good characters, good themes.  Kinda just fluff reading, but enjoyable. 4/5
Salty Like Blood by Harry Kraus, MD - Another pick from the Christian shelf.  A little less believable than the one above. 3/5
Disaster Status by Candace Calvert - I enjoyed it.  The issues were a little simplistic, but likable characters. 4/5
Even Money by Dick Francis and Felix Francis - Another Francis book?  Awesome.  I think this is the 3rd one by the father (now deceased) and son team, and the back of the book talked about the next one (which is already out and put on hold at the library by me!)  I wonder how much actual work Dick put into these ones, or if it's all Felix, just with his dad's name on it to sell?  Either way, they're still great books and I enjoyed the surprise of finding a new one. 5/5 
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo -  This one was recommended to me by a couple of people.  I picked it up at the library Saturday afternoon and had it finished before I went to bed.  A quick easy read and fascinating.  I highly recommend it.  A true story of a boy who went to heaven for a few minutes during major surgery. 5/5

June 2011
Breathless by Dean Koontz - I've just recently read Odd Thomas and The Husband, both by Koontz, and quite enjoyed all three.  A new discovery of an author for me.
The Missionary by William Carmichael and David Lambert - Action & espionage: from missionary working with poor kids to international fugitive.  I like that it's set in Venezuela... been there!
The Note II by Angela Hunt - I like most of her stuff, so when I saw this title I hadn't read I picked it up... turned out to be a very light read.
Slay-Ride by Dick Francis - One of my favorite authors.  I thought I had read everything he had written, but found one I hadn't.  Nice surprise find at the library this weekend.
The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks - I got this one at our book club book exchange.  I've never read anything by Sparks, although I have seen a couple of the movies that have been made from them.  This one was a mix of a love story and a horror, and I think he managed to balance them ok - it was good, but a little creepy.
The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker - Think Criminal Minds... really good.  A Christian author writing mainstream, so the good and evil conflict has depth and is well done.
BoneMan's Daughters by Ted Dekker - I did start two other ones after the last one, but the one is more refrence / non-fiction and the one was boring... I picked this up yesterday after work and stayed up till 12:30 am when I finished.  Another good one.
The Sentimentalist by Johanna Skibsrud - Did not like.  Yes, it won some prize or other, but I didn't identify with or like any of the characters, nor did I see any change or development in them.  It was the boring one I put down to read BonMan's Daughters, but I did finish it.
Providence by Chris Coppernoll  - A nice light read after that last one.  Decent plot, decent characters; I enjoyed.


Kristen Jones said...

I have a big stack of books that I am waiting to get into and start reading (and finish!), but we are in the middle of a move and things have been hectic. I have a tab on my blog, as well, where I update books. Thanks for your suggestions.

MOM said...

Just starting "Where the River Ends". Just finished "Room" by Emma Donoghue - a most unusual story - very thought-provoking for anyone who is interested in child development.

Mary Ann said...

Have you read The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy? He's a Canadian author and the story is about growing up Chinese in Vancouver during the early 1900s. A great book. The second book, All That Matters is equally good.