Monday, January 16, 2012

Books Read 2011

It's about that time for a book review!  I usually give out my list in January and update the prior year.  You can read 2010 and 2011 HERE and HERE

If you don't follow me on Goodreads, please do! I love to recommend books and check up on everyone elses lists for great reads.

My goal for 2011 was 24 books and I read 34.  And that includes taking a three month break from reading during the month's of August and October (I love to read but sometimes, I just need a break. Do you ever take a break from constant reading?)

I also only read 14 of the 24 books I planned to read in 2011.  There were so many other books tempting my palette!  The ones I didn't read are still on my list, however.

I have a five star rating, one star being the worst recommendation, five being the best.  If my reviews sound a little vague, well it's because I'll admit that I am not a book review writer and am not going to put a huge amount of time into it.  Also, I don't want to give away any spoilers.  But maybe these will interest you enough to check them out and see if they are a book for you.  Well, without further ado:

Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson  ***
This book had an interesting plot and it did keep me on my toes, but I did find it to be a little predictable and boring at times.  About a women who lost her memory after an accident, she receives a clean slate every morning, barely remembering even her childhood.

ROOM - Emma Donoghue*****
Wow, what an interesting book.  Released around the time that Jaycee Dugard had her first interviews, this book is about a young boy of age 5 living with his mother in captivity in a small room.  Written from the perspective of a five year old, including verbal skills and communications, the writing keeps you detached from the real situation.  This keeps you reading without having to think until the end of the book.  I will leave it at that as to not release any spoilers, but I do highly recommend this emotional book.

The Paris Wife - Paula McLain****
I admit, I really did not like this book.  I'm not sure if it was the style of writing or what, I'm still contemplating it  (as I just recently finished it).  I have found that this is either a "love it or hate it" type book.  It is an interesting book about Hemingway's wife, just not my style.  I would however, recommend it as so many others have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sundays at Tiffany's - James Patterson **
Just an easy read with a simple plot.  If you have something else on your list, I'd go ahead and move on.

The Hunger Games Series (Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay) - Suzanne Collins *****
Loved it, loved it, loved it!  Written for the teenage crowd, I absolutely loved this series and everyone I know who's read it has loved it.  It's riveting, keeps you on your toes, well written and really makes you think about the world as it stands today.  The plot is very well thought out and can be quite chilling at times.  Read it, I know you'll love it!

South of Broad - Pat Conroy ****
I had heard mixed reviews on Pat Conroy.  I've never read one of his books and was told that again, you either love or hate his books.  Though this one was slightly depressing, I really loved it.  It was well written and very descriptive and I just enjoyed it and the characters and the southern setting.  Though there were lots of different personalities which made the core group a little over-the-top, I liked that feel.  Some people do, some people don't but I love interesting characters.

Last Night at Chateau Marmont - Lauren Weisberger**
A quick and easy read and that's just about it.  I didn't like it or dislike it, just indifferent.

Bride Series (Savor the Moment, Bed of Roses, Vision in White, Happy Ever After) - Nora Roberts ***
What can I say?  Everyone needs to read some romantic books every once in a while.  However, these are not Harlequin....a little less, well, Harlequin!  I read these while working on a fundraiser since they were books I could read without having to think.  I did enjoy them as they are just plain "feel good" books.

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen *****
Excellent, Excellent, Excellent!  Loved everything about this book. The plot, the characters, the relationships, the thorough description of circus life, hierarchy and travel during this time period.  I still haven't seen the movie, but I'm interested in seeing it!  Though I am having a hard time seeing Reece Witherspoon as Marlena.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes -  Diane Chamberlain****
A great book about the relationship between mother and daughter from birth to adult.  The story line, while disturbing at times, flows very well and captures the unspoken and traumatic events of CeeCee Wilkes' life and intertwines those events with the character relationships.  Sound confusing?  It is because I can't say anymore without giving it away!  Read it!

Barefoot, The Castaways, The Blue Bistro - All by Elin Hilderbrand***1/2
I love Elins Hilderbrand books.  These are the first three I've read and I enjoyed all three greatly, especially The Blue Bistro.  I love the plots as much as I love hearing about the Nantucket lifestyle.

Waking Up In Dixie -  Haywood Smith***
Reminds me of the movie Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford except in a southern preppy socialite world.  A woman with grown kids finds herself in a loveless marriage until a traumatic event causes her husband to have a change of heart.  And from there, the story begins.  An easy read, I enjoyed this book because I enjoy all southern prep novels!

The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly**
I read this book before watching the movie and honestly, I was disappointed overall.  I expected the novel to have a bit more action and a more nail biting experience given the subject matter.  Rather, I found it quite predictable.

Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah*****
Written by the same author of Firefly Lane, this book did not disappoint.  Get out your tissues and be prepared to cry, but not for any other reason you could possibly think.  Walking through the strained relationship between two daughters and their mother, this book is extremely compelling.  It is well written and researched and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.  I apologize for the vague review however, I do not want to give away any spoilers.  

The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown **
I could not complete this book.  I hated it.  I hated the ungrateful characters, hated it.  Every single person in my book club hated it as well.  Sorry to the author.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet  Jamie Ford*****
LOVED this  book!  This book is about a Chinese father recounting his experiences as a boy, begrudgingly, with his son.  Being Chinese during World War II, the boy lived near and befriended a Japanese girl when the Japanese were not to be fraternised with or tolerated.  We often hear the Jewish side of the World War and the stories.  This book takes a different spin on the World War and is quite eye opening.

The Informationist  - Taylor Steven***** 
Wow!  The author is just as interesting as the book.  About a girl who grew up overseas learning combat training, she also becomes extremely proficient in gathering information about other people.  Very classified and expensive information.  She is hired out to locate a missing girl, and while at it, re-discovers the life she tried desperately (and unsuccessfully) to leave behind.  I am SO excited about her new book, The Innocent.  If you have a chance, you should read up on the author as well.  She has quite the interesting story herself.

First to Die (Women's Murder Club) - James Patterson**
I read this at the recommendation of a friend.  While I enjoyed the plot, I'm not a fan of James Patterson.  I've read three of his books and am just not interested in reading any more.  I also leave his books feeling either disturbed or just weird (as in Sundays at Tiffany's).  Also, I'm not a fan of long series.

Falling Home and On Folly Beach - Karen White****
I loved both of these books.  I loved Falling Home and the relationship story between sisters and I loved Folly Beach for the same reason.  Both are drastically different in plot and settings and I really enjoy White's style of writing.  I read these back to back.

Sizzle - Julie Garwood***
I picked this book up at a used book store and when I shop used, I read the flaps quickly and pick up what I can in a short amount of time.  I'm usually not too disappointed in my quick decisions.   This book didn't disappoint.  I enjoyed the plot and the mystery behind a documentary film college student who finds herself accidentally stuck in the middle of a crime.  She discovers that there is a hit on her life out there somewhere and a handsome FBI agent comes to her rescue.
My only complaint is that there were a couple of extra little side stories that I feel, really didn't fit with the book and could have been left out.

Georgia Bottoms - Mark Childress**
I found this book through a recommend on Pintrest and the jury is still out.  It was well written and the plot well thought out, but the story line was filled with lies and deceit, indecent relationships and mixed-up priorities.  While I didn't dislike it as much as The Weird Sisters,  it is definitely in that category of "I don't like the characters."

Ain't No Sunshine - Leslie DuBois**1/2
Hmmmm, what to say about this book.  The relationships between father and son were strange in this book.  When I finsihed the book, Ashleigh and I discussed it over email and well, it's almost as if the author was trying to play a trick on the reader.  It was a quick and interesting read and I really don't want to give away a spoiler.  The jury is still out.

Perfect on Paper - the (mis)Adventures of Waverly Bryson - Maria Murnane***
I picked up this book at CVS on the sale rack.  A quick and easy read, a romance book about love lost and love re-gained and the journey from one to the other.  It was cute.  Like the Bride Series cute.

Stealing Faces - Michael Prescott****
John Cray has been stalking and killing women for twelve years without incident.  Suddenly, a woman starts stalking him!  As he turns the situation around, to find out who she is and why she's following him, he discovers something he couldn't even imagine.
A thrilling and disturbing book, it is very well written and definately keeps you on your toes!

Murder on the Boulevard - Kori Donahue***1/2
Written by fellow blogger, Kori Donahue, I picked up this book when she first released it on Amazon.  She is self published and this is her first book.  I did enjoy the book.  It's an easy, thrilling and romantic read, all-in-one.  And I'm interested to see what she does with her next book.  I do think that the plot moved too quickly with people in love one day and not the next and clues to the mystery did show up suddenly, but I think for a first book, it's an excellent read.  Honestly, I couldn't put it down because the story-line is great.

Chelsea, Chelsea, Bang, Bang - Chelsea Handler***1/2
This women is hilarious though the first few chapters of the book were (what is the right word here)....shocking, maybe nauseating.  I actually put the book down and picked it back up a few weeks later.  It is a collection of essays about her childhood, family, love and work.  It is definatly a riot.

So, what books have you read that you would like to recommend and what's on your list for 2012?  Follow me on Goodreads and I'll follow you back!

Happy Monday Y'all!


  1. love this post! just posted some of the books ill be reading in 2012! this is a great list - i will have to check some of them out! also, i havent posted about it yet, but just finished Unbroken! It is my favorite book of the year - an amazing true story!

  2. I didn't like Georgia Bottoms either. Girl in Translations was good - not amazing, but good. I liked The Last Letter from Your Lover, Minding Frankie, and Then She Found Me. And I am currently reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King and I am LOVING it. Not usually a King fan but CANNOT put it down!!

    I want "friends" on Goodreads too. Can people link to me through you?

    Rock on!

  3. FYI, Water for Elephants movie is nothing special. They skipped way too much and there was no chemistry between Reese and Rob. Book was much better!!

  4. We have read a lot of the same books!!!! I am going to check out Waking Up in Dixie!

  5. I just added you on Goodreads! Thanks for all of your recommendations! I have not read many of these. I actually only read around 4 books a year...I am a slow reader and I just don't make it a priority, though I should. I did read South of Broad last year and loved it!

  6. I can't wait to check out some of these books--after reading your list and seeing some books we've read in common I have a feeling we have similar tastes!