Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Silent Cry

The Silent Cry by Anne Perry (1997)

Policeman John Evan finds two men in an alley, one dead and one gravely injured. They aren't from this dangerous part of London; they were a father and son from a nicer area, and Evan sets out to find out why they were in such a neighborhood and who was responsible for these crimes. The son, Rhys Duff, regains consciousness but is unable to speak. His mother hires a nurse to help care for him as he recovers from his serious injuries. The nurse, of course, is Hester Latterly. Meanwhile, William Monk - the star of this series - is conducting an investigation in another bad part of town, determined to find out who has been beating and raping prostitutes. He knows nobody would ever be convicted of mistreating prostitutes, but if only he can find out who it is the people of that neighborhood may seek their own sort of justice.

The eighth in the William Monk series of Victoria-era mysteries, this novel has similar appeal to the others. But it seems to contain even more examples of injustice. No judge in this society will convict someone of raping a prostitute, and everyone knows it. Rhys Duff, a victim himself, begins to look like a possible villain but he can't speak - and both of his hands are convenient broken, so he can't even express himself in writing. I was surprised when he had to appear in court anyhow, without the ability to tell his side of the story or defend himself in any way. As usual, we learn the truth at the very end and in this case it was an uncharacteristically horrifying ending that I just did not see coming. Yikes.

Hester is the main reason I read this series, and I was happy that there was a lot going on with her in this story. In addition to nursing Rhys Duff, she was having a bit of romance. In reading descriptions of later books, I know that she ends up married during this series and I'm rather eager to get to that, which will be soon. A strong, independent woman, I can imagine that her courtship and marriage won't be a conventional Victorian one and I'm quite looking forward to it.

Hester's ascerbic wit really makes this series. For example, in one memorable scene she is meeting Rhys's friend Duke, who gravely underestimates who he is talking to. Seeing her carrying a book on the history of the Ottoman Empire, he assumes she was taking it to Rhys. Sensing his assumptions on what would interest a woman, Hester tells her of her impressions of the people and culture of Istanbul from her visit there. Duke recovered from his surprise and went on:

    "Is there much call for domestic servants in Istanbul? I would have thought most people would have employed natives, especially for fetching and carrying."
    "I imagine they do...I was too busy to think of such things. I left my own lady's maid in London. I did not think it was any place for her, and it was quite unfair to ask her to go." She smiled back at him. "I have always believed consideration for one's servants is the mark of the gentleman...or lady, as the case may be. Don't you agree?"
   "You had a lady's maid?" he said incredulously. "Whatever for?"
    "If you ask your mother, Mr. Kyneston, I am sure she will acquaint you with the duties of a lady's maid," she answered, tucking the book under her arm.

Hester is used to being underestimated, and having her duties as a nurse relegated, in some eyes, to that of a housekeeper. She always responds quickly and cleverly and I enjoy every minute of it. If only I were so clever myself.

Upon finishing The Silent Cry, I really wanted to move right on to the next one (which I bought in used paperback at the same time) but I have a couple of other books I need to get to first for book groups. Hopefully soon though, I've been moving through this series far too slowly!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Knitting

My not-quite-matching set of winter accessories are done.

First, the Gaptastic Cowl. Here it is doubled, similar to how I would wear it.
And here it is in its natural state.
The Squall hat:
And Squall mittens:
I'm actually surprised by how different the colors look in that picture. Maybe it's the light? Anyhow, they don't look quite that different in real life.

Here are the mittens with one of them turned so you can see the garter stitch palm:

My fingers got very cold while I was taking these pictures.

The patterns are:
GAP-tastic Cowl by Jen Geigley, a free Ravelry download
Squall Set by Glenna C. The patterns can be purchased separately for $4, or the set for $6.

I used Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky for all the accessories. The patterns were all well-written and easy to follow, and the projects quick and satisfying. None of these are blocked in the photos, because I've been wearing them all since the moment I finished them. They're exactly what I was looking for, and perfect for these very cold days we've been having.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Waking Up Married

Waking Up Married by Mira Lyn Kelly (2013)

Megan wakes up the morning after her cousin's bachelorette party in Vegas to find that not only does she have a terrible hangover, she also appears to now have a husband. Assuming they will annul their marriage, Megan is surprised when Connor suggests they try to make a go at their new relationship.

Given the ridiculousness of the premise, the author did as good a job as possible making it believable. Megan and Connor both had backgrounds conducive to making them want to settle down, and they did hit it off well the night they met, discovering their similar values as well as mutual attraction.

As it progressed, Megan seemed determined to prove Connor wrong and make him want to end the relationship. Connor was equally intent on being the perfect husband and winning her over, just to spite her. The emotional manipulation - especially on Connor's part - got to be such that I no longer wanted them to stay together and the happy ending was less than satisfying.

The story was so tightly focused on Connor and Megan that they seemed to exist in a vacuum, noticeably missing important details. For instance, Megan packs up and moves from Denver to CA without any mention of leaving behind friends or a job. She seems to be working at home from his apartment, but doing what is anyone's guess. Similarly, Connor mentioned wanting a wife to accompany him to businesses dinners, but we have no idea what his business is. Other life details were also noticeably omitted. Megan does not seem to have one friend aside from her cousin's friends, with whom she doesn't seem close and who are two-dimensional and unlikeable. The setting is weak and could have been happening anywhere. I'm not familiar with contemporary romances, so I don't know if this sort of thing is usual but I found the lack of detail made the characters seem less real and the story too superficial.

Still, it was a fun scenario and the books in this series are meant to be short, quick reads, though I think a bit more detail could have been added without compromising the length. Given the sort of book it's supposed to be, I can live without these details and my only real issue is the way the the male character developed during the story. But if it means anything, I've tried two other contemporary romances and wasn't able to read more than a couple of chapters of each.

Waking Up Married is the first in the new Harlequin KISS series, to be released in a couple of weeks. The Harlequin website describes kiss as "sharply contemporary, glossy and chic, attracting readers who enjoy a short hit of romantic excitement with a thoroughly modern twist." It has a fairly chick lit kind of feel, which seems a bit behind the curve but I like chick lit and would try another. I also really like the bright, fun covers. These might be just the thing for a plane ride or day at the beach, when you want a little bit of fun fluff just for a couple of hours.

I received my copy from NetGalley.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Best American Short Stories 2011

The Best American Short Stories 2011, edited by Geraldine Brooks (2011)

For reasons even I don't understand, I tend to avoid short stories. It may be because reviews and descriptions of story collections can't possibly describe them all and so end up saying very little about each one. In any case, I heard that this particular edition of The Best American Short Stories stood out so I decided to start here.

Edited by Geraldine Brooks, this volume is worth picking up just for her introduction. She is brilliant and clever, and I'm happy to continue in any book with such an enjoyable introduction. (I'm also happy that one of my next reads is one of her books.)

Based on the authors listed in the table of contents, I was eager to dig in - I've already enjoyed short stories by Jess Row and Elizabeth McCracken, and have been curious about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jennifer Egan, Nathan Englander, and Rebecca Makkai. I've read essays by George Saunders and was especially interested in sampling his short fiction, especially given the glowing reviews of his new collection.

But I was surprised by many authors I knew nothing about, and whose stories turned out to be my favorites in the collection. I'm also surprised that I can pick a clear favorite out of such a steller collection, but I can: "The Sleep" by Caitlin Horrocks, a story about a town that starts hibernating during the winter. I've never heard of this author before, but I will surely be looking for more of her work.

"The Hare Mask" by Mark Slouka was a vivid and startling story about upsetting events in a child's life in Czechoslovakia. In Allegra Goodman's "La Vita Nuova" a jilted bride uses her dress in a children's art class, then begins babysitting one of her students; although the story is good, it's the style of her storytelling that elevates the piece and makes it stand out. The first story in the collection, Adichie's "Ceiling" has cemented my desire to finally read one of her novels. Set in Nigeria, the main character received an email from an old romance and questions his marriage. The setting is so wonderfully vivid and unfamiliar to me it was like stepping briefly into another world. And that is the strength of the stories in this volume - they just pop. Each one is so different from the other, in setting, character, and style. Of the twenty stories, only a handful didn't grab me and even those were good enough to finish and appreciate.

I'm glad I didn't skip the contributor notes in the back of the book. In addition to a small bit about the author and their work, each one included a short piece from the author of how the story came to be. Almost all were taken from something in the author's life, and I just found it all fascinating.

It's strange that I tend to overlook short fiction. I've always read it occasionally, and usually really liked it. Last year I read Jess Row's collection The Train to Lo Wu and have been recommending it ever since. I still think about some of the stories in Tatyana Tolstaya's On the Golden Porch, which I read in college. And a short story that I remember reading as a teenager and am frustratingly unable to identify still haunts me to this day. This will serve as my reminder then, and I'll be less hasty in dismissing short stories from now on.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Knitting

My plans for a matching set of winter accessories are steadily going awry. Last week I shared with you my progress so far, including the slight problem of not finding a solid color for my cowl that quite matches the variegated colorway of the hat and mittens.

Things have since gone from slightly troubling to considerably troubling. Somehow I miscalculated the amount of yarn I needed for the hat and mittens and was forced to go back to Windsor Button seeking another skein of the variegated yarn.

You probably know where this is going.

None of the yarn in that colorway was from the same dye lot, which would worry me more if it were a solid color, or if I'd be knitting the two different dye lots. But we're talking about mittens, two separate mittens. Plus the color is variegated, which surely disguises many evils. People, these dye lots are really different.

I resigned myself to ripping out the unmatching mitten I'm still working on, knitting it into a hat, then undoing my already-finished hat (in the old dye lot) and making it into a mitten that more closely matches the complete mitten. But then I started comparing each mitten to the hat.

Those are made from the same dye lot.

These are from different dye lots:

I realize the hat is folded different in the second picture and the garter stitch part DOES look a bit different than the cabled part, but honestly the hat seems equally the same/different as each mitten. It doesn't match either of them perfectly, nor does it look too jarringly different. 

See? I am confused.

So I put the whole damn set together, because the purple of the cowl doesn't exactly go with any of it and I needed to see how bad this all is.

So, nothing quite matches each other, but also isn't jarringly different enough to cause strangers on the street to point and laugh. The whole thing matches better than my other completely-mismatched accessories, so I'll just stop overthinking it.

I think I'll cut my losses, finish the set, be grateful for the warmth, and plan better next time.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (2012), narrated by Erin Moon

The daughter of a turnip farmer, Ismae is sold into marriage to a dangerous brute, but is soon rescued and taken to the convent of St. Mortain. The sisters serve the god of death by training their novices as assassins who carry out Mortain's will. One of Ismae's first assignments is at the royal court of Brittany, where she must protect the young duchess. Much intrigue and romance ensues!

All you really need to know about this book is: assassin nuns. They are pretty bad-ass and I liked the descriptions of the weapons and accessories used in their work, and the ways in which they concealed them. The novices were also taught the art of seduction, classes which Ismae mostly skipped, much to her later regret.

I liked Ismae a lot. She is grateful to the convent and carries out their tasks obediently and without question for much longer than I would have in her position. When she begins to feel doubts she is determined to do what is right, but is still completely loyal to Mortain, and she takes great risks to do this.

Speaking of risks, the romance part of the plot was quite delicious, as was the object of her affections. I appreciate that the tension in their relationship was not because of their neuroses, but mostly due to outside forces. One can only stand so many characters who seem determined to make themselves miserable.

Erin Moon's narration is pretty stellar, the distinctions between characters clear but not exaggerated. She was also the narrator of Dreamland Social Club, which was fraught with accents I found a bit annoying, so it was nice to hear her talents shine through here.

Grave Mercy is first in the His Fair Assassin series and although I'm curious about where the story leads, I'm not sure I will follow. I liked the book a lot but I have many other books I want to read, so a taste of this series may be enough. But I'll keep it in mind for the future anyhow. You never know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (2012)

June's favorite person in the world, the only person who understands her, has just died. It's 1987 and her Uncle Finn had AIDS, a new and still mysterious disease. It's only after his death that she learns about his "special friend" Toby, who her family blames for Finn's death but who is the only person June thinks would understand what she's going through. Her sister Greta certainly doesn't. They used to be so close, but now Greta is wrapped up in the school production of South Pacific and the drunken cast parties she attends after each rehearsal. Their parents are both accountants consumed in the flurry of tax season. June is just left with Finn's last portrait, a very special teapot, and perhaps a new friend in Toby.

The story was told from June's perspective and she was such an easy character to slip into, especially since the first person narration was just so fantastically crafted. She had an interesting perspective and could be insightful without being philosophical. She loved to traipse through the woods wearing her Gunne Sax dress and big boots, pretending she lived in medieval times. (Oh, how I wanted a Gunne Sax dress in the 80s!)

But June was so wrapped up in her own life and memories of her relationship with Finn that she failed to see that while she was star of her own drama, everyone around her was similarly the star of their own lives and not just her supporting cast. A lot of things she loved about Finn he had actually picked up from other people, and it was startling when she began to realize that. It hadn't occurred to her that her mother was Finn's sister, and had a whole lifetime of memories and experiences with him. She was also dismissive of Greta's problems, which were just as serious as her own, possibly more so. I loved the relationship between June and Greta - it was complicated and wonderful and heartbreaking and even a little scary.

I could go on, but this book is a treasure that you should discover for yourselves. Even the cover is wonderful and perfect. I just can't say enough good things about it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Knitting

Last week I mentioned that I was knitting some accessories. It really is making me feel better about the unfortunate cardigan debacle.

My bus knitting has been the Gaptastic Cowl, in a lovely shade of purple.

Accompanying the cowl is the Squall Hat - which I've finished but not photographed - and the Squall Mittens, in progress.

This is the second mitten, so I'm almost done with this whole set!

As I'm sure many knitters understand, I have about 47 hand-knit scarves, cowls, hats, mittens, and gloves (both fingerless and not) and not a matching set among them. Oh, I have a cowl and mittens that match each other, but they don't go with any of my hats, and another cowl and a hat that match, but with no accompanying mittens. I can't ever find patterns for all of these things that work together, at least not all at one time before I go to the yarn store.

But recently I was reading Glenna C.'s blog and saw her lovely Squall set just when it was exactly what I wanted. When I went over to Ravelry to look it up there I stumbled upon the Gaptastic Cowl (I think it was one of the "hot right now" patterns) and since all of these items called for the same weight yarn I immediately ran out to Windsor Button and bought a bunch of Lamb's Pride.

The problem, of course, with knitting an entire set is that it can be too matchy-matchy. I had the brilliant idea to buy some variegated and then one solid matching shade. Of course it would be too easy if there were solid shades matching those in the variegated, wouldn't it? But there was a purple shade that I thought looked nice enough with the variegated even if that exact shade wasn't in it. Considering how frequently I wear accessories that are completely mismatched, even being in the same color family is closer than I usually get.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Honolulu by Alan Brennert (2009)

In early 20th century Korea, girls had little value and some parents would name daughters accordingly. This story is about a girl named Regret. Longing for more than her confining life allowed her, Regret traveled all the way to Hawaii as a picture bride in hopes of education, happiness, and a better life. But her new husband was a drinker and a gambler with a bad temper. Not willing to settle for a life worse than the one she just escaped, Regret left her husband, renamed herself Jin, and set out to live the life she wanted.

Jin's abusive marriage wasn't the end to the trouble she and her fellow picture brides faced. Through it all, what struck me most was the kindness that the characters exhibited and the generosity they showed. The relationships between Jin and the other picture brides were quite touching.

Honolulu is not a long book, yet I'm amazed at how much story is contained in its 350 pages. It covered a very long period of time and so many things happened, yet it never felt rushed. Description and details aren't omitted either; in fact, it's incredibly atmospheric. It made me want to eat my way through Asia and the Pacific.

Most fascinating is the history. I know little about Korea, and I expected the position of women at that time to be poor, but I was truly surprised when Regret explained that women had to cover their faces with veils when they went out. Girls were allowed no education, little choice about who to marry, and were expected to always defer to their husbands. No wonder leaving for unknown shores to marry a stranger seemed so appealing.

I've been wanting to read this ever since I read the author's other novel, Moloka'i, and though that novel is no longer fresh in my mind I think Honolulu compares quite favorably. They are both fascinating stories, beautifully told.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

The young, unnamed narrator is working as a companion to an American woman in Monte Carlo when she meets an older widower, Maxim de Winter. They agree to marry almost immediately, and after their honeymoon return to his English estate, Manderley. The new Mrs. de Winter tries to settle in, but is uncomfortable by the continuous comparisons to Maxim's first wife, Rebecca. The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, is an especially sinister figure who loved Rebecca a great deal and is less than welcoming to Maxim's new wife. Mrs. de Winter comes to feel that Maxim doesn't love her because she cannot possibly compare to his apparently-perfect first wife. But Manderley holds many secrets, and soon they begin to unravel.

Rebecca is dark, gothic, and beautiful. Du Maurier's descriptions of Manderley in the first chapter are full of foreboding, and the few pages in which she describes the vegetation set up the atmosphere for the whole story. Reading descriptions of estates can positively bore me, but there was action in the way the Manderley vines twisted around other plants, choking them, and in how the menacing trees impeded those trying to come up the drive, the fifty-foot rhododendrons towering over it all like dark sentries. This novel hooked me from the very first page.

The characters, too, are mysterious and shady. Mrs. Danvers is sinister from the start, but with others it can be difficult to know whose side they are on. And the new Mrs. de Winter is in the midst of it all, coming into a household that has been operating in its own way for years, and expected to slip into the role of someone who is dead, but was a completely different person. The previous Mrs. de Winter used to sit at this particular desk in the mornings and write letters with this pen, so the new Mrs. de Winter is expected to do the same. It's so deliciously ominous.

I'd love to read lots of deep meaning into the fact that the narrator is unnamed, but the author's note explains that she just couldn't think of one. And it works perfectly. Somehow it is appropriate that our heroine, who is under-confident and constantly overshadowed by her dead predecessor, has no name of her own. Our heroine, who it's difficult to especially like or dislike because she is so young and unformed, avoids confrontation at all costs and is happy to surrender decision-making to others. But as the story progresses and she learns more about her husband and about the perfect, beautiful Rebecca, she begins to come into her own. This is not the sort of coming-of-age story you are used to.

Although I've been trying to catch up on classics for several years, this one escaped my notice until recently, probably because Du Maurier doesn't have a huge body of work like Dickens or Austen. The short story "The Birds" is the only other work of hers I'd heard of and I didn't realize she was the author until now. What made me want to pick this up was Simon from The Readers who manages to mention it at least once during every podcast and whose blog header includes the cover image. Thank you, Well-Read British Man I've Never Met. Rebecca is just fantastic in many ways, and I'm sorry it's taken me this long to read it for the first time. I suspect it won't be the last.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Knitting

The Livingstone Cardigan is finished, but has fallen short of my expectations.

See how concerned and disappointed I look? (Not to mention my bizarre outsized shoulders and tiny head. So unfortunate.)

The back looks fairly good.

But there is something very wrong with the whole collar area.

This is the picture in the pattern:

Look at that lovely wide collar that gracefully flips down over her shoulders! I don't think it's possible to use these instructions and make a collar that looks like that. I looked at other people's versions of this sweater on Ravelry and they ALL have collars that look like mine. Not one is like this.

There are a couple of things going on here. The other pieces don't come very close to the neckline, so the way the collar sits means that it isn't in a good spot to fold back that far. I also just don't think it's wide enough.

The collar is knit separately by casting on a lot of stitches, knitting a bit in ribbing, doing some short-row shaping, then back to just regular ribbing until it's a certain width. This means you don't know if it fits the sweater until it's done and you sew it together. I had some trouble fitting it into my sweater. It was the right length (when slightly stretched) but the short-row part didn't really line up to the neckline correctly. I don't know if this is a gauge issue or something else.

I probably should have done what others did and pick up stitches instead of knitting it separately, but I wouldn't have known how to do the short-row shaping from that direction. (And anyhow, theirs still came out with the skimpy collars that don't fold over nearly so far.)

Other than the issues with the collar, the pattern was pretty clear and easy to follow. It's from the Winter 2011 issue of Interweave Knits (I bought the standalone pattern online.) I used Plymouth Encore Chunky Tweed and size 10.5 needles.

It seemed to be going so well, and now I feel rather disheartened by the whole thing. To make myself feel better, I bought  some purple chunky yarn and started on a hat, mittens, and cowl. This is sure to give me some almost-instant gratification!

Friday, January 4, 2013

End of the World Reading Challenge

I mentioned around mid-2012 - and you may have seen the banner on my sidebar - that I have been participating in a reading challenge from the Insatiable Booksluts called the 2012 End of the World Reading Challenge, in honor of the apocalypse that ultimately wasn't. The contest is now over and though a winner hasn't been announced yet, it wasn't me. I think I was the third person to post my page count total and I was already in third place. Not all the books I read last year qualified though, as the rules didn't allow for re-reads and I had a lot of those. My Not-So-Young Adult book group at work has read about 4 books in a row that I've already read. I also read a couple of graphic novels early in the year, and those didn't count either. That's ok though, it's all in fun.

The good thing about this particular challenge is that I didn't have to change my reading habits for it. I could have avoided the graphic and re-reads, but that's about it. I don't really like having assigned reading (I already have 3 book groups!) so this challenge is definitely my style. Several years ago I participated in the Book a Month Challenge which was my first-ever challenge (this one being only my second), and also fairly easy to do. Although each month had a theme, the themes were fairly general and open to interpretation. I was able to pick books I already wanted to read, so it didn't feel like there was extra reading to do or like I was missing out on the books I actually wanted to read.

Other challenges are more specific and I have shied away because of it. For instance, I just heard about the TBR Double Dog Dare in which you read only books on your TBR pile for a certain amount of time. There's also the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge, in which you every month you read one female science fiction author you haven't read before. Then there's the intriguing Around the World in 80 Books Reading Challenge that appeals to my sense of adventure but is fairly involved, requiring actual research on the countries in which your book choices take place. There's a challenge for every type of reader out there. However, I'm trying to read more serendipitously, which is already difficult with 3 book groups.

But there is something about a reading challenge that can be irresistible. Reading and blogging are pretty solitary activities but these online challenge create a bit of solidarity. When you can fit books in that you intend to read anyhow, there's just no reason not to join in and be part of something and meet (virtually, anyhow) interesting new bloggers.

Lest I continue talking myself into trying another challenge, I better stop here. What's been your experience with reading challenges? Do you take on more than you can handle? Avoid them all together? Have you heard of any really great ones starting up? (Not that I will be tempted to participate, I swear!) Share your experiences below in the comments.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Year of Reading: 2012

1. Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
2. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
4. The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee
5. At Home by Bill Bryson
6. Health Care Reform by Jonathan Gruber
7. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
8. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
9. Darkhouse by Karina Halle
10. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
11. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
12. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle
13. Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
14. The Descendants by Kari Hart Hemmings
15. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
16. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
17. I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan
18. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
19. Weighed in the Balance by Anne Perry
20. The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
21. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
22. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
23. Locke and Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
24. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
25. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
26. The Odds by Stewart O'Nan
27. Golden Boy by Martin Booth
28. The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta
29. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
30. Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
31.Wonder by R.J. Palacio
32. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
33. On Writing by Stephen King
34. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
35. The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
36. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
37. I2 by James Bannon
38. In One Person by John Irving
39. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
40. The Elements of Style Illustrated by William Strunk and Maira Kalman
41. The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett
42. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
43. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
44. Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
45. How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
46. Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
47. Looking for Alaska by John Green
48. Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
49. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
50. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
51. Railsea by China Mieville
52. Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
53. The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
54. Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn
55. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
56. The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
57. Hard Times by Charles Dickens
58. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
59. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
60. A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
61. Big Ray by Michael Kimball
62. The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
63. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
64. The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
65. Bad Little Falls by Paul Doiron
66. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
67. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
68. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
69. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
70. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway
71. Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin
72. Stolen by Lucy Christopher
73. A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins
74. Losers in Space by John Barnes
75. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (2nd time!)
76. Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
77. A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan
78. The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
79. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
80. History of a Pleasure Seeker by Richard Mason
81. More Baths, Less Talking by Nick Hornby
82. Arcadia by Lauren Groff
83. The Twelve by Justin Cronin
84. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
85. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
86. A Slender Thread by Katharine Davis
87. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
88. The Long Walk by Stephen King
89. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
90. Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
91. Above All Things by Tanis Rideout
92. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
93. Divergent by Veronica Roth
94. Horns by Joe Hill
95. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
96. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
97. My Life in France by Julia Child
98. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
99. The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
100. Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

There are really only 99 books on that list because I read The Fault In Our Stars twice, but since I read it twice, it's on there twice. This is the most books I've read in a year - every year the list gets longer and longer. I don't know why, and I seem unable to stop it.

As mentioned in a previous post, I wrote about my top 12 favorite books that were published in 2012, though I also want to mention The Twelve and The Casual Vacancy which stood out among this year's books. I also read a lot of great books published in previous years: Caleb's Crossing, Ready Player One, The Piano Teacher, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle were probably my top picks, though as I look through my list I keep finding more and more books I want to give special mention to.

My "to read" list on Goodreads has also exploded this year, so I'm faced with the competing goals of wanting to slow down on book consumption in favor of possibly doing other things with my time, but wanting to put a dent in that list before it gets completely out of control. I've made another list on Goodreads called "to read priority" as some sort of emergency book triage. I don't know why I think making another list will help me get through more books more quickly.

However, what might help is subscribing to Audible.com which I plan to do today. Relying on audiobooks from the library means that frequently I make choices based on what's available in the format I need, not based on what I want to read. I need something portable, either a Playaway or downloadable mp3, but most available audiobooks are either on CD or in a file format that's not compatible with my devices. Given how rarely I spend money on books, I think this will be a worthwhile investment.

Happy New Year to you all! I hope that 2013 brings you many fantastic books!