Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Favorite Books of 2008 (long post)

Hello All!

January 1, and time to post my favorite books of 2008. I have no major criteria for choosing a favorite book--it should stay with me, be a book I want to share with others, and a book that I loved for one reason or another. I have included some short reviews from my Goodreads account, but I only started writing them in the last few months. The books are listed in the order that I read them, and include author, title, publication date and genre:

Balzo, Sandra Grounds for Murder (2007) MYS
Hockensmith, Steven On the Wrong Track (2007) MYS/W
Traviss, Karen Crossing the Line (2004) SF

Penny, Louise The Cruelest Month (2008) MYS
Turner, Nancy E. These Is My Words (1998) FIC
Traviss, Karen The World Before (2005) SF
Selznick, Brian The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007) JFIC
Balliett, Blue Chasing Vermeer (2004) JMYS
Stanley, Michael A Carrion Death (2008) MYS
Wyman, Willard High Country (2005) WEST
Allen, Sarah A. The Sugar Queen (2008) FIC
Greenwood, Kerry Heavenly Pleasures (2005) MYS
Alexie, Sherman The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian(2007) YA Chandler, Raymond The Lady in the Lake (1943) MYS

Jacobs, Kate The Friday Night Knitting Club (2007) FIC
I loved this book and the mix of women in the knitting club. I also enjoyed the relationship that the main character, Georgia, had with her daughter, Dakota. I'm glad that the author chose to look inside each character's life, not just writing from the main character's point of view. I think this way, women readers can find one or more characters to identify with. As someone who is who still feels new to Arizona after being here a year, I'm trying to find new women friends (I have met several, but 2 are moving away soon), so I found this book somewhat inspiring in that regard.

Dallas, Sandra Tallgrass (2007) FIC/W
This book won the Western Spur Award for Best Short Novel in 2008. I thought it was wonderful, and the story reminded me of To Kill A Mockingbird. Rennie Stroud is a 12 or 13 year old girl who has to grow up a little more quickly as a Japanese internment camp is built next to her family's sugar beet farm. Her family is more tolerant than many of those in their small town, and Rennie learns a lot. I'm having a hard time describing this book (at least right now), but it is wonderful and interesting, and definitely award-winning. Sandra Dallas is a wonderful writer.

Harris, C. S. When Gods Die (2006) MYS
I enjoyed this book, partially because it lived up to what I'd read about it (a good historical mystery), and partially because it takes place during one of my favorite time periods, the Regency in England (approximately 1811-1820, though I may be off slightly). Sebastian St. Cyr had gone through quite a time previous to this novel, not enough of which is revealed, for me. But it leads to him being called into sensitive situations in society, such as when the Prince Regent finds a dead woman in the Brighton Pavilion during a party. The search for the answer leads Sebastian all over London, in both high and low society, showing demonstrating his detecting skills and intelligence. I really enjoyed the character of Sebastian, but would like to have known the full story how he got involved in solving situations in Regency society. A very enjoyable historical mystery with an intriguing main character.

Shaffer, Mary Ann & Annie Barrows The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008) FIC
I LOVED this book!!! I want to move to Guernsey (the Guernsey of 1946, that is), and befriend these characters! I think my favorite is the protagonist, Julie, but I also loved several of the very strong women living on the island, helping themselves and their neighbors get through WWII. Guernsey is part of the Channel Islands in the English Channel, located very close to the coast of France. It was occupied by the Germans during the war, and I'm always amazed to read about the strength of character people under occupation have, whether I'm reading fiction or nonfiction. I always doubt I could handle what so many people did and do while under occupation, but maybe I could. The occupation is a strong underlying theme, but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is also very much about friendship, especially the friendship between those who are booklovers. I LOVED this book!!!

Harris, C. S. What Angels Fear (2005) MYS
Ahhhh, this book filled in the blanks of When Gods Die. This is what I get for reading them out of order--which I HATE to do. I have no idea how it happened, but I'm managing to get past it :).

I loved this book as much as Harris's second title. I like the character of Sebastian, his relationships with Kat and young Tom, and how he doggedly follows through on a case. He is the accused in this book, allegedly raping and killing a young actress, and managing to escape arrest, decides to find the killer himself. Sebastian is a former intelligence officer in the war with France, so he puts all his training, and his own strong sense of deduction to work. There are two more in this series, and I am looking forward to reading them very much.
Alexander, Tasha A Fatal Waltz (2008) MYS
I loved this book! It was exactly what I was looking for this week! This is the third title in Tasha Alexander's series about Lady Emily Ashton and Colin Hargreaves, and both the writing and the characters have grown over the series. A Fatal Waltz starts with a country house party, where the host is shot and killed, and the story travels to London and on to Vienna. Colin is supportive of Emily's investigations (something new & different in mysteries!), and they are both in Vienna, working on different cases that eventually converge. Emily was befriended by Cecile du Lac in the first book of this series, an older woman who lives a life of her own choosing, due to being a widow and her own strong personality. Emily has learned a lot from her and they are great friends. This is where I believe Emily has learned to trust her own deductive reasoning, and also learning lessons from Colin, who is an investigator in his own right. I enjoy the main characters, the growth they've gone through, their intellect and deductive skills, and their relationship. I also enjoy the secondary characters--there are a good variety of them, and strong, interesting friendships.
Shepard, Adam Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream (2008) NF
This was an amazingly well written book, written by a young man who attempted a very interesting experiment. Adam Shepard decides to see if the American dream can be achieved from a certain set of circumstances--a train ticket to a southern large city, $25.00, the clothes on his back, and a duffle bag. Shepard travels by train to Charleston, South Carolina, and makes his way to a local homeless shelter. He works for as day laborer for awhile, and finds a good job as with a moving company.

Shepard is clear that a strong opposition to Barbara Ehrenriech's books Nickel and Dimed, and Bait and Switch lead to his experiment of finding out whether the American dream is still possible. Read this book to find out what Adam is able to achieve.

I believe that this book would definitely be appropriate for young adult or teen readers, as it is quite inspirational, and gives some pretty good advice. It's a good read for adults also, and I think that many readers will come away with ideas to handle their money in our current economy.

What an amazing year of books for me, and a surprising variety to me. It’s interesting as a reader to find out that you like different books than you anticipate, and it makes being a reader that much more wonderful.

I hope that 2009 is as wonderful for you as it is for me, and may we all find amazing, interesting, exciting and special books that really speak to us, or touch us in a particular way.

Happy New Year, and Happy Reading!


Jen said...

oooh, ooooh, oooh....I loved A Carrion Death, too! And I just recommended Tallgrass for our bookclub. I haven't read it, but the summary I read sounded wonderful. Glad to hear you liked it, Patti. I'll push for that one at our next meeting!

Hope 2009 is a great year for you! I know you're going to have lots of change, but you seem to make the most out of every change! Happy New Year!

Patti O said...

You are so funny! I can't wait for the next book by Michael Stanley. I really enjoyed Tallgrass, and think it would be good for discussion--good luck! Thanks for the support--I think the changes coming in 2009 will be good, and I'm looking forward to them. They will cut into my reading time, however... :)...

Anonymous said...

Patti, you had some great reads in 2008. Several of my all-time favorites were listed. I have recommended THESE IS MY WORDS to so many patrons and then, of course, any Louise Penny book is wonderful. My top book for 2008 was the GUERNSEY book. We will read it for the book club I moderate in April. Also, loved HUGO CABRET and TALLGRASS! I haven't read C.S. Harris yet, but those books are in my book closet.

I'm new to your blog and enjoying it very, very much!! Congrats on the new job.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Didn't read a single one of these. Isn't it amazing how we all read such a different list of books. Our book group is reading Kaaterskill Falls at my son's suggestion. Very good.