Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekly Geeks - top 10 of 2009

So I've been away from the Weekly Geeks meme for a couple of months. I do check back every so often to see if there is something that appeals to me or relates to me to make an entry about. This one definitely does.
I've had a thing for top 10 lists since I was a kid. I'm just hoping I read 10 new books (not just new to me books) in 2009. Read on to see the topic and then my response below.

For the second year running, welcome to the Weekly Geeks Book Bloggers Top 10 of 2009.

You always see these “Top Whatever” lists that the newspapers/publishers put out and, for a second year in a row, we the book bloggers are going to put out our own Top 10 list. This week, the Weekly Geeks team and I are asking you to come up with your own Top 10 Books that were published in 2009 (books that were reprinted or re-released are not eligible, sorry).

Now, the idea is to only choose books that were published in 2009, regardless of what country you live in. If a book was released in the US in 2008, but released in your country in 2009, that's okay. I know there is still a month in a half left of 2009, but if you know there is a book coming out between now and Dec. 31st, then it’s still eligible.

This year, I am also asking for something a little more specific. When you submit your novels, you must include the genre it is from as well. Last year, when I was trying to categorize everything, I had to guess on a lot of novels and I know there were some people who disagreed with my choice. If there are any contradictions in genres (say if a book was selected for two genres), then the Weekly Geek Staff will vote on where it goes (please?).

If you see a Top 10 list somewhere else, add it to the Mr. Linky, even if they aren’t a part of Weekly Geeks. We're trying to gather as many lists as we can, so we can come up with a nice comprehensive list. You'll have two weeks to come up with your list before I begin compiling the voting booths. Then we'll put it to a vote. Last year, we ended up with over 1300 individual voters and I know we can make it just as big this year.

For those of you new to Weekly Geeks, join in the fun at .

Now onto my top 10 list (alright, so it is a top 9 list as I realised I only read 9 books published in 2009, and really the 9th book was one I bought for my son at a meet the author reading at a local bookstore - it is lovely and probably deserves to be higher than 9 on my list):

9. Kisses, kisses Baby-O by Sheree Fitch (baby board book - poetry)
8. The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory (historical fiction)
7. Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult (general fiction)
6. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich (mystery)
5. Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella (general fiction-chick lit)
4. Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner (general fiction-chick lit)
3. Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy (general fiction)
2. Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran (historical fiction)
1. Testimony by Anita Shreve (general fiction)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Warrior by Francine Rivers

The Warrior is the second in Francine Rivers' Sons of Encouragement series. This is the story of Caleb, one of 2 men (the other being Joshua) to live out the 40 years the Iraelites wandered in the desert after excaping from slavery in Egypt. His story begins in Exodus and ends in Joshua (in the Old Testament). He becomes second in command to Joshua when the Israelites enter the Promised Land.
I have to admit that I struggled a bit reading this one. I am not one to normally read battle scenes and there are a lot of them in this story. (It is probably why I've only read through this part of the Bible once). I do enjoy how Rivers brought Caleb's story out. It's why I'm enjoying the premise of the whole series, these are men who walked behind Bible leaders and heroes. I look forward to the next story, The Prince, which tells Jonathan's tale.

A Most Uncommon Degree of Popluarity by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

I almost passed this book by. Really? Did I need to read another book on teen cliques? Wait a minute, that isn't what this book is about. This book is about the mothers of the teen (or pre-teen) girls who are popular. It tells the story of how their own children's popularity and friendship dynamics affect the lives and friendships of the grown-up women. Now that is a new and fascinating twist, one I'd never thought about before.
The women in question have been friends since their children first started at their exclusive D.C. private school. Their lives revolve around their children, the school and the activities involving the carpool. It is when their daughters start middle school that things change. They discover that their girls are popular (something none of them ever was) and that popularity comes with a price.
I really enjoyed this one. I didn't want to put it down at the end of the day. I had hoped to discover that Seidel had written more books, but unfortunately, this gem is her only novel to date.

Rogue by Danielle Steel

It must be my time for catching up on books I was avoiding because here's another one. There was just something about this book that I didn't want to read. Probably because of the too handsome man on the cover. I just thought, "oh please", but here it is a few years later and I've picked it up and read it.
I actually ended up liking this book a lot more than I thought I would. Contrary to the title, the book is not just about a womanizing man (my assumption). The book actually parallels the lives of a man and a woman who were once married and now see each other only because they have children together. The man is the rogue. He made a lot of money early on in life in the dot com industry and promptly retired to live out the life of a playboy. The woman is a successful psychiatrist and expert in teen trauma and suicide. That was the most fascinating part of the book to me. If Danielle Steel wanted to write a more serious novel one day, I would recommend that she pick up this character and go further into the depth of her work. The parts where it was featured were quite well done.
As I said I enjoyed this more than I thought would happen, probably because I had such low expectations for it (I apologize for that).

Bungalow 2 by Danielle Steel

So I feel very foolish to admit this, but I avoided this book for a few years because I thought it was a sequel. The problem was I never could find Bungalow 1. It turns out that there is no predecessor to this book. Bungalow 2 is named for the Bungalow that the main character of this story stays in while writing a Hollywood screenplay at the Beverly Hills Hotel - whoops! Maybe it would have been better for me if she'd stayed in Bungalow 7.
The storyline does indeed focus on a writer who is making the transition to Hollywood screenplays. She has always thought of herself as the average mom (who happens to have a successful writing career) living in Marin County. The opportunity to spend time in Hollywood is one she has to be convinced to do as it would take her away from her family for close to a year. (Though close enough still to visit on weekends when possible).
As you would expect with a Danielle Steel novel, you get to see some of the glitz and glamour of life. The story does take predictable turns that you can see coming as well. But you know it will and you just have to enjoy it for what it is.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Monday

Happy Monday! Today I'm still reading through Francine Rivers, "Sons of Encouragement" series. I also started "A Most Uncommon Degree of Popularity" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel, which looks at parents of popular girls and how their popularity affects the parents and their own friendships.

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Monday

I played a lot of book blogging catch-up last night, posting the last 5 or 6 books I'd read. I feel better now. I started reading the second book in Francine Rivers' Men of Encouragement series - The Warrior which tells the story of Caleb in the Old Testament.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Priest by Francine Rivers

Francine Rivers is an author I adore. I've been waiting a while to read this story as I knew it was part of a series and I wanted the series to be complete before I delved into any of the books.
The series is called the Men of Encouragement. Each book is based on a man in the Bible who has a supporting role to another man. The Priest tells the story of Aaron, brother to Moses (found in the book of Exodus). (Coincidentally for me, my pastor has just been working through a series on the book of Exodus so the writings are freshly familiar in my mind.) Having just read through Exodus I can honestly say that Rivers stays true to the scriptures. Yes, this is a novel. She has added thoughts and dialogue to a familiar story. She does it very well. She is historically accurate and biblically faithful. It is why I call her one of my favorite authors. She is very good at what she does. I thoroughly look forward to the next book in the series, The Warrior, which tells the story of Caleb.

A Mormon's Unexpected Journey, vol. 1 by Carma Naylor

I picked this one up by chance at our local bookstore. It intrigued me as I have a friend who is a Mormon. I know that we share a belief in Christ, but that her theology is different than mine. I've never really understood what the differences are and why Joseph Smith and his writings are so important to her. Each time I've tried to investigate and find out more I come away with more questions than answers. I'm confident in my own relationship with Christ and belief that the Bible is the Word of God in full.
Carma Naylor comes from a background as a lifelong Mormon with a family history dating back to the time of Bringham Young and the first Mormons in Utah, their promised land. She writes with such respect for her background and the people of the church that she grew up in that I found it easy to take her story to heart. This is not someone who is biased against the Mormon church. This is someone's personal journey to faith in Christ. It details her own struggles in life. She writes with love and truth each step of the way.
I really enjoyed reading her book, so much so that I was disappointed when I came to the end and found a family cliffhanger. Unfortunately, I had to special order in the next volume and have to wait until it is in to find out what happens in the next steps of her life.
I really do enjoy autobiographical works and am glad that she decided to put her story on paper to share with the rest of us.

Sisters by Danielle Steel

Yes, my foray into my yearly visit with Danielle Steel continued with a second novel. This time it was Sisters, appropriately centering on a group of 4 sisters. They are of course beautiful and successful in completely different ways. Candy, the youngest, is a supermodel, next up the line is Annie, an artist studying in Italy, then there is Tammy, an LA TV producer and finally Sabrina, a workaholic, New York lawyer. They are all summoned to the yearly family 4th of July family gathering where tragedy unexpectedly shakes the family up. As they deal with what life has thrown them you gt to see the flaws behind their perfections and their need to support each other. If you enjoy Steel's style of writing, this will not disappoint.

Honor Thyself by Danielle Steel

Those who have been reading this blog for a while know that I have a love-hate relationship with Danielle Steel novels. I first started reading her books when I was 15 or 16. Some I like better than others. By know I know what I'm getting into when I pick up something new to me by her. Yes, her books are formulaic. I can almost guarantee some of the lines that her characters will use. Her characters will be beautiful and/or rich, but unusually unspoiled for their attributes. That's where my frustration with her writing comes in, I get the "oh please" moment as a reader. However, I do keep coming back to them because they are mindlessly entertaining. And isn't that the point sometimes, just to be entertained?
So this story centres on Carole Barber, an extremely popular actress who tragically ends up as a Jane Doe in a coma following an accident. You learn of Carole's life, loves and children as the events unfold through her accident and recovery. It is what it is, enjoyable entertainment.

Seven Sunny Days by Chris Manby

This book had all the markings to be chick lit - that's what I was hoping for anyways. I was wrong. It had the requisite cover art and back jacket description. Very promising. 3 friends on a week long hen party at a resort in Turkey. It was alright, but nothing particularly memorable.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Monday

Oh to play catch up! I realised that I'm really behind on my posts. I like J. Kaye's Monday meme as it keeps me on track! I just finished the first of Francine Rivers "Men of Encouragement" series, "The Priest" and instead of starting the second, I got distracted by "A Morman's Unexpected Journey" by Carma Naylor, Vol. 1. It's a true story of one woman's search for truth in her life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Monday

Last week a lot of you were curious about "The Girls" by Lori Lansens. I did finish it and posted a review here. I do hope you get a chance to seek it out, it's a worthwhile read.
I'm looking towards this reading week and and hoping to start Francine Rivers "Sons of Encouragement" series. It's been sitting there calling my name while I worked through some library books. The library books are done and I'm ready to go.