Tuesday, December 28, 2010

50 Books in 2010--update #5 (I DID IT!!!!!)

That's right! I did it!!! I thought it might be impossible, but...
I really did read 50 books in 2010!!!!!!!!

I actually finished this challenge about 2 weeks ago (knowing that if I didn't, the Christmas hubbub would cause me to go permanently off course), but didn't get a chance to post about it. A lot of the credit for my finishing this challenge has to go to the Kindle that I got back in September. Having a new gadget to play with definitely reignited my interest in reading, and browsing the Amazon Kindle forums for free books and new author suggestions led me to a lot of interesting and cheap reads! I've also been taking advantage of the free samples offered on most books. It's great to be able to read the first few chapters of a book, especially if you are trying out a new author. There have been a few samples that clearly showed that the writer's style or content were not my taste, but more often than not, the sample is just enough to pique my interest so I end up buying the book. 

So without further ado, here are the rest of the books I read this year...

31. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
I struggled to get through this book. I picked it up because I had heard so many rave reviews about it, but I lost interest in it several times and kept putting it down for other things. It took me several months to work through it, and in the end, I only kept reading because I wanted to finish it for this challenge, not because I really cared about the characters. Perhaps it was the short stories within a story format that didn't work for me. I just never got invested in it.

32. Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
This was the first book I read on my Kindle!! I happened to have read a magazine review of this book that sounded fascinating the week before I got my Kindle, so I figured it would be a good first purchase. The story of a mother, and her son who has spent his whole life in one room, as the captive of a kidnapper, seemed apropos of all the recent news stories about these types of cases. Using the son as the narrator, and seeing the situation through a 5 year old's eyes was both interesting and chilling. Definitely a great read, but one that stayed with me and disturbed me for a while afterwards.

33. Half Baked by Alexa Stevenson
I've read this author's blog Flotsam, on and off for the last year or so, and much of that was about her attempts to publish this book. As a latecomer to her blog, I wasn't very familiar with her backstory of miscarriage and having a premature infant so I thought that this memoir would be interesting. And it was. Funny & poignant.

34. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
I first heard of this book when I saw a trailer for the movie version several years ago. I have never seen the movie, but the stars Kate Winslet & Ralph Fiennes are two of my favorite actors. So when I saw the book for 50c at the library book sale, I snapped it up. I did enjoy this book, and if we ever resubscribe to Netflix, I'll have to put the film on my list too!

35. Barefoot in Baghdad by Manal Omar
I stumbled on this memoir while browsing in the Kindle forums and figured since it was less than $3 I would check it out. It turned out to be an interesting read about a Palestinian American woman's experience working for a women's nonprofit in Iraq during the early days of the current war.

36. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
I really enjoyed this book! This story of a young girl growing up in WWII Germany and the effect of certain books in her life, which was narrated by Death, seemed strange at first, but once I settled into Death's narration of events, it was a unique and inventive read.

37. Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal
I've read a lot of modern Indian-American fiction over the years, but would probably never have stumbled across this book, had it not popped up as a free Kindle book for a brief period. Of course I snapped it up, because what's better than an interesting book for free! This was a cute, coming of age story of a misfit Indian preteen boy who loves dancing, makeup, and thinks he may be the reincarnation of Krishna.

38. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourne
39. Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourne
40. Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourne
41. Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourne
I discovered this series through the mysteries forum on Amazon. I was looking for a new author to start reading, and noticed that many people recommended these books featuring Lady Julia Grey, a Victorian era woman who stumbles into investigating murders, after the death of her husband. The first three books were offered as a Kindle bundle for only $9.99, which seemed like a great deal, and after enjoying the first few chapters of book one in a free sample, I didn't hesitate to buy the bundle. I raced through these books as they were fun reads with enjoyable and interesting characters. When I finished the bundle, I couldn't wait to buy the 4th book in the series, even though it cost almost as much as the first 3 books combined. Good marketing technique! It was great fun to discover a new series and I hope there will be more Lady Julia Grey books in the future.

42. Wet Desert by Gary Hansen
This book is another cheap Kindle forum find by an independent author. An interesting story of ecoterrorism against some of the major dams in the Western U.S., this book was definitely worth more than the $0.99 I paid for it!

43. The Time Hunters by Carl Ashmore
Another $0.99 Kindle indy book, this was another easy read. A time traveling mystery for children and adults alike.

44. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
One of the first, classic true crime novels, this book was slow to start, but ended up being a satisfying read.

45. The Sex Club by LJ Sellers
This was another book I would never have bought if it hadn't been for the Kindle forums. But after reading a lot of positive reviews, I figured I would take a chance on this book since it was only $0.89. This mystery that begins with a bombing at a Planned Parenthood clinic was a quick and easy read, but I still didn't figure out all the twists ahead of time.

46. Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden
47. Genghis: Lord of the Bow by Conn Iggulden
The free sample for the first of these first two books in a historical fiction series about the childhood and rise of Genghis Khan really grabbed my attention. These were well written and interesting, reading like a gripping novel. Since I didn't really know much about Genghis Khan prior to reading these books, it's been fun to learn about this time period.  Another great marketing coup for this series, since I picked up the first book in the series for $1.59 but will likely end up paying full price for the rest of the books, because I can't wait to see what happens next.

48. The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
I thought this book was great. Written by a descendant of a family of hangmen, in this German historical fiction novel, the town hangman attempts to save the life of one of the local midwives when she is accused of witchcraft by proving her innocence. Touching on the history of hangings, witchcraft, midwifery, and early medicine, this was a really different and satisfying read. 

49. A Simple Amish Christmas by Vanessa Chapman
Being the Christmas season, I figured I would pick up this Kindle freebie. It was an easy and fluffy read, but not particularly memorable. 

50. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
I'd heard great reviews of this book for years, but somehow had never gotten around to actually picking it up. But recently watching the PBS documentary Circus, piqued my interest in reading this circus related novel. I really wasn't expecting the graphic descriptions of sex and violence that were in this book, but the story was interesting.

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