Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Books of 2011 - June

June was a very big reading month. I spent every extra second I could spare (and some, frankly, I couldn't, see especially #2 on this list) working through my stack(s). The library reading program is in full swing and this is the first year I can say I might actually be interested in the prizes. So, why not?

Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin1. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Non-fiction by Timothy Snyder. This is not light reading. One premise of this book is that I found intriguing: despite the common image of Auschwitz, most of the Jews (and others) who died never even saw a concentration camp. Purposeful starvation (and famine), mass shootings, and other policies designed to kill thousands, if not millions, were employed by both Hitler and Stalin.

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3)2. Mockingjay. Fiction by Suzanne Collins.The conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy. I loved it, although I think the second book was my favorite. (The second is always the best see: The Empire Strikes Back for further evidence of this phenomenon) Katniss Everdeen is a memorable voice and character. This is a book I couldn't put down until I knew what happened. I stayed up way too late reading this (and this was before Lili was reliably sleeping through the night, which is another milestone we hit in June).

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less3. The Well-Fed Writer. Non-fiction by Peter Bowerman. This book is an encouraging how-to book for starting your own copy writing business. Also discourages selling yourself short as a writer (such as certain online sites that pay mere pennies per word).

Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite4. Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies. Non-fiction by June Casagrande. Yes, as you know by now, I love books about words and grammar. This one is occasionally funny, but the politics (who knew that grammar was such a political subject?) get tedious at times.

A Lonely Death: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery (Ian Rutledge Mysteries)5. A Lonely Death. Fiction by Charles Todd. Series mystery. The Ian Rutledge mysteries usually have interesting characters and situations but the writing and solutions could be tighter. I also don't approve of introducing "new to us" characters who are supposedly important to the protagonist in a series. Why haven't we heard of this oh so important personage before now?

Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and with (Almost) No Money6. Possum Living: How To Live Well Without a Job and With (Almost) No Money. Non-fiction by Dolly Freed. Outrageous, funny, strange, and thought provoking. I especially enjoyed the update by the author at the end where she shares how she grew and changed from the teenager "roughing it" with her divorced father into a married working mother of two.

Sheer Folly: A Daisy Dalrymple Mystery (Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries)7. Sheer Folly. Fiction by Carola Dunn. Another series mystery, this one the Daisy Dalrymple series. Light, frothy, and usually good fun in the classic "British cozy" mold.

Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty Tips)8. Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips. Non-fiction by Mignon Fogarty. Yes, another book about grammar. (Side note: I'm not sure the edition shown is the one I read but it's similar.)

Watery Grave ` a (A Sir John Fielding Mystery)9. Watery Grave. Fiction by Bruce Alexander. Yet another series mystery. This is from the Sir John Fielding mysteries. Great sense of time and place in these books.

Treason at Lisson Grove: A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel10. Treason at Lisson Grove. Fiction by Anne Perry. Um, yes, series mystery. This is the latest in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt mysteries. I liked the earlier books better. I liked Pitt better as a policeman / detective instead of a defender against conspiracies and whatnot. Spoiler: Queen Victoria herself makes an appearance in this book. We are not amused, indeed.

11. The Four Graces. Fiction by D.E. Stevenson. I love these vintage British stories. Try to find older copies if you can: the 1970's reissued editions have horribly cheesy covers. I think this one has some of her best characters and charming dialogue. (And because I happen to have four daughters of my own, I saw some similarities to my own four little graces.)

Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt12. Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs. Non-fiction by Barbara Mertz. Fascinating stuff here from the author of the Amelia Peabody books (as Elizabeth Peters). When Polly gets into a higher level of school (Rhetoric stage, maybe?) I'm going to have her read this one as she studies the ancients.

Matched13. Matched. Fiction by Ally Condie. This one is definitely riding on the success of the Hunger Games trilogy. I was drawn in by the characters and setting (yet another semi-utopian scenario) and can't wait for the next book in the series.

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think14. Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. Non-fiction by Bruce Caplan. Will definitely make you think. The dependence on twin and adoption studies gives me pause. As a Christian, I can't agree with all of his conclusions but it's an interesting book nonetheless. (Also, I'm pretty sure, as a parent of four children already, I was not his target audience.)

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living15. Organized Simplicity. Non-fiction by Tsh Oxenreider. Yet another blogger does a book. There's nothing shocking or novel here. It is meant to be encouraging as you simplify your home room by room and step by step. Your mileage will vary according to where you already are on the simplification scale.

Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion16. Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. Non-fiction by Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck. One of my favorites this month. Yes, our churches are flawed and complicated. (They're filled with people, after all.) This book is thoughtful, funny, and worth the time it takes to read. (Side note: I do not agree with all the theology within. And I find it much easier - than the authors - to make an argument about why we need our churches since I do not believe in a universal invisible "church". But that's a discussion for another time and place.)

Shades of Milk and Honey17. Shades of Milk and Honey. Fiction by Mary Robinette Kowal. Jane Austen meets Bewitched. An intriguing set up and charmingly done.

18. A History of Domestic Space: Privacy and the Canadian Home. Non-fiction by Peter Ward. Read as research for a writing project.

Person or Persons Unknown (Sir John Fielding)19. Person or Persons Unknown. Fiction by Bruce Alexander. I finished out the month with - what else?! - a series mystery. I'm really enjoying these Sir John Fielding books and I'm not sure how I've missed them before now.

June Totals:
Fiction: 9 (mostly mystery series)
Non-fiction: 10

All links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. Opinions are my own.

1 comment:

April said...

I agree, Catching Fire was the best. I felt like Collins was rushing to meet her deadline and threw in an unnecessary shock factor to make up for lack of good writing. Anyhoo... I'm interested by this "Selfish Reasons to Have More Children"-- what was the author's agenda? And also-- how in the WORLD do you find the time to read??? I do believe it will take me an entire year to read Anna Karenina at this rate... sigh. Any tips?

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