Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Reads

    2007 YEAR IN REVIEW!!
I can't believe this year is over with already! Of course, it does seem like a long long time ago that I was reading those first dozen novels on the list below. 2007 was my best year for reading, which in many ways is a little ironic to me since I'm not in school reading 3 books a week anymore.
I finished 58 books, participated in 8 reading challenges, knocked 39 books off the TBR pile (books I owned prior to Jan 1, 2007), and found the world of blogging and all the wonderful bookbloggers.
Here is my 2007 List (links will take you to my thoughts on the book--books in RED are some of my favorites for the year--which doesn't discredit the rest...):

1.  The Pilot's Wife - Anita Shreve
2.  Kissing in Manhattan - David Schickler
3.  Gilead - Marilynne Robinson
4.  Night - Elie Wiesel
5.  The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards
6.  Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man - Fannie Flagg
7.  Nature Girl - Carl Hiaasen
8.  Talk Before Sleep - Elizabeth Berg
9.  The Widow of the South - Robert Hicks
10. Vinager Hill - A. Manette Ansay
11. Sideways - Rex Pickett
12. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood
13. Rich in Love - Josephine Humphreys
14. Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding (re-read)
15. Nineteen Minutes - Jodi Picoult
16. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
17. A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway
18. Fall On Your Knees - Anne-Marie MacDonald
19. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - Anne Tyler
20. Ireland - Frank Delaney
21. The Awakening - Kate Chopin
22. The Portrait of a Lady - Henry James
23. The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult
24. Thunderstruck - Erik Larson
25. Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich
26. No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
27. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
28. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
29. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
30. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling (re-read)
31. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
32. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
33. The City of Falling Angels - John Berendt
34. Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood
35. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Emmuska Orczy
36. Keeping Faith - Jodi Picoult
37. Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquirel
38. Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
39. His Excellency: George Washington - Joseph J. Ellis
40. Big Fish - Daniel Wallace
41. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
42. Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
43. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert
44. Travels With Charley - John Steinbeck
45. Howards End - EM Forster
46. As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
47. High Fidelity - Nick Hornby
48. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
49. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
50. The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
51. The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe - Edgar Allan Poe
52. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen
53. Flesh and Blood - Michael Cunningham
54. Sea Glass - Anita Shreve
55. The World According to Garp - John Irving
56. Snow - Orhan Pamuk
57. Johnny Tremain - Esther Forbes
58. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

In 2008 my reading goals are slimmed down a little bit to take off some pressure (not really sure where the pressure is coming from!!). My goal is to read 36 books by December 31, 2008. I will enter challenges at my own risk and may not even formally participate but just keep personal tallies. I also vow to keep my read/unread ratio to at least 60/40% (in other words, keep the book buying to a minimum!). And last but not least, enjoy enjoy enjoy.

South Padre Island, Texas - New Years 2007


Since Scott is from Harlingen in the Rio Grande Valley, we head down south thataway about once a year. Since New Years was going to fall on a long weekend, we decided to spend the weekend on South Padre Island with Adam and Bekah. While the weather in Dallas wasn't too cold, we couldn't have asked for a more pleasant stay on the island.

We did the usual stuff: stayed up way too late, drank too many mimosas, played Scene-It (during which I kicked serious butt!!), talked and talked and talked, and of course ate food that was way too bad for us. :) Since moving from Lubbock we hadn't spent a whole lot of time with Adam and Bekah, so it was great to have a weekend where we could just chill together.

On New Years Eve we got out of bed late, went to Tom and Jerry's to eat some excellent hamburgers, and then bought a kite. Ok, Scott bought a kite. I thought, really--how much fun is flying a kite? There's probably a reason why adults aren't rushing to their local kite shop to purchase a brand new kite. And this is where I remove my foot from my mouth. I sat on the balcony of Adam's family's condo and watched Scott and Adam flying the kite. They were having so much fun that I ran down there to play.

I never imagined flying a kite would be so exciting!!
It is extremely difficult, but once we got the hang of it we were maneuvering the kite every which way--making it dive to the ground and swoop back up. We both decided it would be a great toy to have for our next camping trip.

The Kite Flying was definitely one of the highlights of the trip--but it was also fantastic to be out in the sun in the gorgeous weather. Mac and Alli came down for the night and we had a great time at Amberjacks and later back at the condo, but I was feeling a little under the weather (read: too much greasy food in the tummy=not happy Trish). It was a perfect New Years Eve and a great trip. Too bad we have a 10 drive back to Dallas!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen: A Review

Title: Pride and Prejudice
Author: Jane Austen
Date Finished: December 26, 2007
Pages: 312
Rating: 4.25/5

Everyone knows the story of Pride and Prejudice. If we haven't read it, then we've seen one of the many productions; if we haven't seen one of the many productions, then we have seen one of the many movies/read one of the many books "inspired" by this classic love story. I read this book many years ago (not even sure I finished it since it was for school), but I enjoyed my revisit--especially after just finishing Northanger Abbey. The characters were much more developed in this novel and the plot is complicated and well-thought through. Yippee!! Exactly what I love in a novel.

I love the dynamics between Lizzy and Mr. Darcy although I'm not sure that I ever truly warm up to him. I think his warmth is portrayed in the newest version of the movie when viewers can see a physical change, but this is more difficult to "read" in the novel. Perhaps it is because the novel is so rich and contains so many small nuances. While I feel that the end of the most recent movie is a little more romantic ("I love, I love, I love you") than the logical conclusions of Lizzy and Mr. Darcy, I love when Lizzy talks about how Jane smiles in her love for Bingley, but Lizzy laughs in her love. Isn't that the best kind of love? But at the end of the book do we really need an update of Lydia and Lady Catherine and Mrs. Gardiner? I would have rather the focus remain on Lizzy and Mr. Darcy.

This is one that I could re-read; it is a timeless story that never gets worn out. Yeah for love stories!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Johnny Tremain - Esther Forbes: A Novel

Title: Johnny Tremain
Author: Ester Forbes
Date Finished: December 21, 2007
Pages: 256
Rating: 3.5/5

This is my desperate move to finish the Decades Challenge since I obviously was not going to finish All The King's Men (and probably never will--urg!). It could also qualify for the Book Awards Challenge since it won the Newbery quite some time ago, but I still have a few months to finish that one. Ohh, challenges challenges.

Johnny Tremain is the story of a fourteen year-0ld silversmith apprentice in pre-revolutionary New England. He is bossy and proud, but also very talented; one day, though, he disfigures his hand after another apprentice purposely gives him faulty equipment. He cannot craft silver anymore, but he finds another job as a rider for the Boston Observer. During this time he meets many of the key revolutionary figures in Boston, including Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams; Johnny is key in keeping these figures abreast of the revolutionary situation in Boston--especially as the fighting begins.

I liked this book, but I didn't think it was anything spectacular. I would recommend it--as I tried doing to my 11 year-old brother--but the plot isn't very exciting. I think perhaps its just the style of writing because of the history of what was happening at the time is very exciting. Easy and light--a story of forbidden love, fighting for what one believes in, discovering one's heritage, and growing into the responsibilities of adulthood.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Snow - Orhan Pamuk: A Review

Title: Snow
Author: Orhan Pamuk
Date Finished: December 4, 2007
Pages: 426
Rating: 3/5

This one started off great for me. The storyline was interesting and a mystery was promised. Unfortunately that only lasted the first 100 pages. Snow is the story of a poet, Ka, who returns to his native home in Turkey after being politically exiled in Germany for several years. He returns to Turkey in order to report on a wave of suicides of teenage girls who are forbidden to wear their headscarves. Sounds fascinating, right?

The story about the suicide girls quickly falls to the background while Ka's relationship with Ipek, a woman who may or may not love him depending on her fickle mood, comes to the foreground. Also at the foreground is a political coup in which Ka becomes entangled mostly because of his western ties. While the political coup had a lot of potential, the plot was sometimes confusing and very anticlimatic. A great story was there, ready to be written, but it never seemed to come together. Too much emphasis was placed on Ka and Ipek's strange love affair and Ka's poetry, which was spoken about at great length but never expressed in the novel. I have heard such great things about Pamuk's other work, that I am really disappointed that I disliked this one as much as I did. Plus, the narrator is not a character but still intrudes in the plot; the narrator retraces Ka's footsteps and interviews the other characters in order to piece together the story--very contrived--very much a pet-peeve of mine.

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