Best Books of 2009

Happy New Year everyone.  Just a few hours to go :)

I feel like I am a little late to the game–everyone has been posting their best of 2009 lists for weeks now.  By now you should have realized what a procrastinator I am!  I have decided to just go through all the books I read this year and big out my absolute favorites.  No categories.  No specific number.  No rhyme or reason really.  So without further ado, here are my favorite reads of 2009.

The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

The Help, Kathryn Stockett

My Sister, My Love, Joyce Carol Oates

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery

The Crimson Petal and the White, Michael Faber

Sacred Hearts, Sarah Dunant

The Plot Against America, Philip Roth

Belle de Jour, Joseph Kessel

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Sea of Poppies, Amitav Ghosh

Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

Matrimony, Josh Henkin

American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld

We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver

Her Fearful Symmetry, Audrey Niffenegger

The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness

After, Amy Efaw

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley

So there you go–I read 107 books this year and apparently have 18 favorites!  If I could only choose ONE book as my absolute favorite, it would be . . .

Book Review: Snakes and Earrings

Snakes and Earrings

Hitomi Kanehara

Plume

128 pages

If I could choose only one word to describe this book, it would undoubtedly be freaky. I read it over a week ago and I am still not even sure whether I liked it or not. The award winning book is very short—it can easily be read in one sitting, and it is the story of a Japanese youth subculture. Lui meets Ama one night and although she’s not sure if she’s attracted to him, she moves in with him straight away and begins an odd sort of romance with him. Ama has a forked tongue, and although Lui is into body modification as well, she is new to such extremes. She decides she wants a forked tongue as well though so she goes about the process of piercing her tongue and enlarging the hole. I don’t think I am squeamish at all but ready about the piercing and enlarging it made my skin crawl.

At the same time, Lui goes to Ama’s friend Shiba to have her back tattooed with a large dragon. Shiba agrees to do so and in return, receives sex as opposed to monetary payment. As with the piercings, the sexual encounters in the book are very explicit. In fact, the entire book is basically gritty, disturbing look at a strange aspect of youth.

Lui’s character intrigued me because she was so fickle, which really isn’t an odd characteristic for someone in their teenage years, but she took it to the extreme. I was especially surprised with her actions towards the end of the book. She felt a strong love for Ama but she also knew nothing about him. When something happens to him at the end of the book, she is able to get over it so quickly.

One of the most interesting aspects of this whole book was how it was published in 2003, when the author, Hitomi Kanehara was only twenty years old! It garnered her two prestigious Japanese literature awards. She is only about two weeks older than me, so that made me take notice of how young she was to have accomplished so much. She has since published some other books—none of which I know anything about. I doubt I will read any of them—in fact, I read this one only because my sister had it with her on vacation and wanted me to give it a try. It was a nice change of pace from what I generally read but I wasn’t blown away by it.

Other reviews:

booklit

Book Haven

The Reading Life

In Spring it is the Dawn

I borrowed this book from my sister

Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly meme hosted by Eva and Marg.

I noticed something interesting and disturbing when I was at the library the other day.  No matter how many books I return, I always seem to check out a larger amount of books.  For instance, yesterday I returned three and came home with four.  Considering I already have more library books than I can read, this is a problem.

Anyway, I sound like a broken record, so without further ado, here are my library books:

Read any of these?  If so, what did you think?

Book Review: The Dead of Night

The Dead of Night

John Marsden

Scholastic

278 pages

The Dead of Night is book #2 in the Tomorrow series by John Marsden.  Forgive me for this review in advance, seeing as how my memory is a bit fuzzy–although I only read this book two weeks ago, vacation and the holidays have blurred my memory.

For those of you who haven’t read the first review, I will try to avoid spoilers.  Basically, in the first book is about Ellie and her friends, who have gone on a camping trip in the Australian Bush only to find that their family and friends have all been captured and encamped by enemy invaders.  They immediately retreat back to thebush in order to hide and avoid capture.  Book #2 begins after they have been in hiding for a few weeks.

Book #2 is much the same as #1.  Filled with a lot of action and contrivance, the kids try to protect their freedom while also attempting to gain ground against the invaders.  In comparison to the first book, I think The Dead of Night was just as enthralling and fun to read.  I found myself rooting for Ellie and her friends while admiring their tenacity and ingenuity.  I can’t understand why this series has been so overlooked, because as far as YA dystopian fiction goes, I think this series (at least so far) is right up there with the best of them!

Other Reviews:

Books and Movies

Beth Fish Reads

Becky’s Book Reviews

Lou’s Pages

Whimpulsive

Teaser Tuesday: The Observations

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week comes from The Observations, by Jane Harris.

From Booklist:

Harris’ debut, set in Scotland in 1863, is narrated by the lively, sharp Bessy Buckley, who leaves Glasgow and happens into a job as a maid at Castle Haivers, an estate nowhere near as grand as its name suggests. Her mistress, Arabella, takes a personal interest in Bessy and encourages her to write her thoughts and experiences in a journal. She also subjects Bessy to odd experiments, but Bessy goes along with them because she is flattered by the attention and quickly growing attached to her mistress. Things change when Bessy snoops in Arabella’s locked desk and discovers the book Arabella has been writing, The Observations, a study of the “habits and nature of the Domestic Class.” Bessy is incensed to read some less-than-favorable things about herself in the account, as well as to learn of her mistress’ affection for one of her predecessors, a girl who died under mysterious circumstances. Bessy concocts a revenge that ends up having consequences far more lasting than she ever envisioned. Bessy’s unique, witty voice distinguishes this boisterous novel.

Of course deep down I knew the truth.  It was a desparate blow to learn that she had found out some aspects of my past, let’s just say I would have preferred her not to know.  But what was worse was how she thought of me.  Hells teeth, how can I explain the wretched despair I felt, except to say my heart was banjaxed.

page 103

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page.

I am glad I am actually able to post this on Monday!  I had quite an eventful holiday with buying books and also receiving them.

The first book I got from the publisher for review.  I am really looking forward to it.

The following books I got as gifts.

And then with giftcards (and if I am being honest, I actually spent way more than the amount of the giftcards!), I bought . . .

Did anyone else get a lot of books this past week as a result of the holiday?

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