Monthly Archives: December 2019

2019 Annual Wrap-up

How many books did you read and did you meet or beat your own personal goal?
I read 126 books this year. I beat 52 and 104 by a lot. I upped my goal by 10 at a time after 104, so I beat 120, but didn’t reach 130.

What story stayed with you a long time, left you wanting more or needing time to digest?
1984 by George Orwell. It’s such a part of our pop culture now. There were things that made me nervous about just because of the parallels to today. But it was the end that really stayed with me. It was sad and hopeless and creepy all at the same time.

What are some quotes that made you read them a second time?
“Once the Irish landed in America, the sympathetic feelings disappeared. Americans feared the destitute, emaciated emigrants, many so weakened from hunger and disease that they could not work. The Americans also feared the spread of typhus and other infectious diseases. They also worried that the newcomers would take jobs away from them and drag down wages.” (Black Potatoes by Susan Campbell Bartoletti)

“Mao, the dictator, had been the friend of the devils. He had wanted China in perpetual turmoil so that he could rule forever. He’d had a simple philosophy: peace and leisure bred unrest and resentment against leaders, while a sense of crisis strengthened his own leadership.” (China’s Son by Da Chen)

“It is not always necessary to grant things not asked for, for by doing so such things are often viewed as of little value or are taken for granted. However, when the need of something is sensed, that thing becomes valued in the eyes of the one who has recognized the need.” (Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan)

“Nazi flags had appeared on every office building and home, until it became dangerous not to have one. Until dissent became unpatriotic. Unit it became criminal to not stand and salute the fuhrer. And then worst part was that Germany hadn’t suddenly ‘become’ racist and evil. That rot had been there, under the surface, the whole time. Hitler’s hate-filled speeches had allowed the seeds of German bigotry to grow like weeds until the choked out anything else that might have flowered there.” (Allies by Alan Gratz)

Top 5 Books of the Year
We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Refugee by Alan Gratz
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Allies by Alan Gratz
(Yeah, that’s six… sue me)

Bottom 5 Books of the Year
Women Under the Knife by Ann Dally
Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Who Killed My Daughter? by Lois Duncan
Bruno’s Dream by Iris Murdoch
Drown by Junot Diaz
The Appointment by Herta Muller
(Again six… oh, well)

How many books are in your To Read pile right now?
752 (That’s 91 more than at the end of 2018 and 229 more than at the end of 2017 when I started keeping track… I don’t think I’m doing this whole read the books you already have thing quite right…)

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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up

Identical Strangers by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

Told in a back and forth style, Identical Strangers recounts how identical twins separated in infancy and adopted by two different families as part of a nature vs. nurture study found each other and set out to learn about the study and to discover who their biological mother was. It’s quite interesting and includes tidbits of information scattered throughout about topics ranging from twinning to what we know about twins who were separated and find each other later to mental health issues. Sometimes the narrative dragged on and got repetitive. Sometimes the women were rather insufferable and not very likable. Overall I enjoyed the book, however, and actually learned quite a bit.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 126
Pages Read in 2019: 32,107
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Good Luck, Ivy! by Lisa Yee

Good Luck, Ivy! focuses on Ivy, the best friend of the 1974 American Girl doll, Julie. Ivy is a Chinese-American gymnast who has to make a hard choice between going to her family reunion (and eating Chinese food… again) or going to her gymnastics tournament (and risk falling off the beam… again). As with all American Girl books, it’s historical fiction written in a way that really interests kids. I highly recommend this book to both girls and boys.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 125
Pages Read in 2019: 31,819
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys

Julie Takes a Stand by Megan McDonald

Julie Takes a Stand is the second book about Julie, the American Girl from 1974. Julie participates in the wagon train east to commemorate the bicentennial and then runs for study body president for her elementary school. My sons, especially my 11-year-old, loved the book. American Girl really is historical fiction done right. It tells the story on a kid’s level, but still is as accurate as possible. The last few pages are historical background showing where they got the ideas for what happens to Julie in the book. Julie Takes a Stand makes an excellent family read-aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 124
Pages Read in 2019: 31,734
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Children, Historical Fiction, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Reason: Vine Review

Twinkle, Twinkle by LRW Lee

Twinkle, Twinkle, the fourth and final Sand Maiden book, wraps up the storylines quite nicely. Most of the chapters are told from Ali’s point of view, though some chapters scattered throughout are told from other characters’ points of view for things that Ali is not present for but are important for the reader to know. The writing is excellent, often using clever imagery. The character development is quite realistic. The theme of abuse, recovery from being abused and the cycle of abuse, is addressed very well and very sensitively. I highly recommend this book and the whole series!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 123
Pages Read in 2019: 31,613
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Asked by the Author, Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: I Like the Series

Evening Storm by Andrea Pearson

Evening Storm, the second book in the Midnight Chronicles series, picks up right where the first book left off. It parallels things that happened in the second Koven Chronicles book (The Black Masquerade), but from Abel’s point of view this time. It’s very interesting getting to see where Abel was all those times he disappeared and what his emotions were doing when he was basically acting like a jerk to Lizzie. The story really sucks you in and is very well written. I highly recommend it to people who like urban fantasy and especially people who have read the Koven Chronicles (though you don’t have to have read them first – but if you have it will make Abel’s story even better).

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 122
Pages Read in 2019: 31,284
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Asked by the Author, Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: I Like the Series