Best of 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

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Click on the pictures to go to my reviews!
I saved my favorite of the year for last!

Best Young Adult

Honorable Mention: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Best Non-Fiction (overall)

No review yet... sorry!

Honorable Mention: Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Best Non-Fiction (of those published in 2010)

These two sort of go together... I can't really separate them.

Best Women's Fiction

Best Literary Fiction

Honorable Mention: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (not yet reviewed)

Best of 2010

I have two for this category... one published this year and one published prior to this year. And they're related. (I have two honorable mentions, and those are the two above this listed as best literary fiction)


Looking forward to another year of great reading!

Take Me Away's 2010 Superlative Awards

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It's that time of year now to reflect on our readings for the year. Please keep in mind that as one (very busy) person, I read less than 70 books this year so I very well may be leaving out books that could potentially be better fits in any of the categories. I'm sure you understand!

Today, I will be borrowing a page from Jaime at The Perpetual Page-Turner and doing her end of the year survey. The only thing I am omitting is her #1 question which is Best Book because tomorrow I'll be posting my actual "Best of 2010" list. Today is more a fun survey for the rest of the categories! I also added two questions (#7 and #9).

1. Worst Book
Ha! I wouldn't actually announce this mainly because I would feel bad if an author saw this and it was theirs. And I mean, we all have different taste in books. But I've seen some "poor sports" when it comes to authors. You can say the nicest things about them or point out all the things you DID like but if you say something bad, there are some that will cause a fuss. And quite possibly the book I would put here is by an author who DID cause a fuss when I posted my review of her book. So I won't say. However, not that this would apparently make that (or possibly any) author feel better, there were many books this year I did not finish, and the one I would place in this category, I DID, so hey, there's something. Anyway, sorry to totally fake you guys out on this one! (Although if you're super observant you may have figured out what book it is.....)

2. Most Disappointing Book
Okay, so this one's a little different. There are various reasons why I would have been disappointed by a book. And my being so doesn't make it a bad book or even one that others don't love. As in therapy... it's my issue, not the author's. The book(s) that most disappointed me this year were The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris and The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. Both were highly anticipated books that really did get tons of great reviews. But I found myself disappointed in both. =(

3. Most Surprising (in a good way!)
Okay, I've got two for this category too, though only one was actually published this year. The one I was most pleasantly surprised by this year was The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins. I mentioned it in the review, but I wasn't sure if based on the topic I would be into this one, but I ended up loving it! Every time I see this on a shelf somewhere I smile remembering how I enjoyed that one. I met the author at the book blogger convention too and she was so friendly! I had another pleasant surprise that was a 2009 book: The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Zombie Book?! Me?! Yup, apparently so.

4. Most Recommended
I tend to be very careful with recommending books if it is to people that don't read much. So I don't do it much. But other readers, here is what I recommended... Malena Watrous's If you Follow Me, the aforementioned The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins, and from 2009, the non-fiction book, Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

5. Best Series
The only series that I read more than one book from this year was The Forest of Hands and Teeth series. It was that one and The Dead-Tossed Waves, and I really enjoyed them both.

6. Favorite New Author
Hmmm... I have two, no three, that I would say are my favorite new authors this year. They would be Jennifer McMahan who wrote Dismantled that I read this year, Margaret Dilloway who wrote this year's How to Be an American Housewife (I love her blog too), and Lauren Oliver who wrote this year's Before I Fall. Looking forward to reading more by all of these authors!

7. Favorite Returning Author
I picked new authors but I wanted to highlight those who aren't new to me who also wrote some great books this year. For me they are Emma Donoghue who wrote Room, Carolyn Parkhurst who wrote The Nobodies Album, Katrina Kittle who wrote The Blessings of the Animals, and Kristy Kiernan who wrote Between Friends. (I also met her this year and she was incredibly friendly!!)

8. Most Hilarious Book
I believe this may actually be a book I just finished last night, so I don't yet have a review to link to... that would be This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. It is heartbreaking yet hilarious. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares wasn't necessarily the most hilarious but was certainly fun! And I definitely found If You Follow Me pretty humorous! Honorable Mention: Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen.

9. Best Book about Dysfunctional Families
Hehe, I thought this was a good category to add. I chose Commuters by Emily Gray Tedrowe which was a great debut and The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst. But there is also a 2009 book that I just finished last night, This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (review to come).

10. Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book
Well, the book I have for this category actually doesn't come out until next year: Delirious by Daniel Palmer. And then I also have two that are 2009 books that I absolutely devoured, and those were Dismantled by Jennifer McMahan and The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah.

11. Most Anticipated Book
I really think the book I was most excited about was one I actually didn't find out about until the very first night of BEA when I went to the Editor's Buzz... I ended up getting a copy of the book that night, later had it signed by the author, Emma Donoghue, and started reading it before I left NYC, but I realllly think once I found out about it I was more excited than any other book this year. That book is Room! As for any I knew ahead of time, I think it might be The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle and Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan because I've really enjoyed their other books!

12. Favorite Cover (s)

13. Most Memorable Character
Christy from The Outside Boy and Kimberly from Jean Kwok's Girl in Translation. And clearly, it's not from this year, but Francie (and her brother, Neely) from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

14. Most Beautifully Written
So many books this year were superbly written, but my pick for this category goes to a book that I would read again just to take in and savor the beautiful writing. That is The Blind Contessa's New Machine by Carey Wallace. Even though it wasn't my favorite book, I can't bear to part with it because when I think of it, I think simply, "beautiful".

15. Book that had the Greatest Impact
This one's rough... I'm not really sure how much of an impact any of the books had on me.... I'm going to go with some non-fiction that I read. I'm going to say Laura and Lisa Ling's Somewhere Inside and Euna Lee's The World Is Bigger Now (you really should read them both), and from 2009, Half the Sky. If for no other reason, each of these reminded me to be passionate about the issues that are pertinent to me. Each of these author's/journalists are inspirational.

16. Can't Believe I Waited until 2010 to Read!
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. For sure! Oh! Also, To Kill a Mockingbird (which I have a review ready for but have not yet posted!)

That's that! Stay tuned tomorrow for The Best of 2010!!

Brooklyn Story (DNF + Giveaway)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Title: Brooklyn Story
Author: Suzanne Corso
Pages: 336 pages
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Gallery (Simon & Schuster)
Release Date: December 28, 2010

Isn't the cover gorgeous?? I think so!
Ok, so, the thing is, I feel a little bad because this book was one I was so very excited for, that I searched out the publicist and specifically requested this book for review.

I started reading this book on two different occasions, two months apart, and just couldn't really get into it either time. In fairness to the book, I never got very far, so it could have potentially gotten better for me later on. So let me explain why I finally decided I was done reading it and why I believe others will still enjoy this book (hence the giveaway).

Brooklyn Story is based on the real life of the author growing up in Brooklyn. With aspirations of being a writer, the main character, Samantha, dreams of one day "crossing the bridge" from Brooklyn into Manhattan. Brooklyn Story tells the story of her adolescence in Brooklyn. This is reportedly the first of a planned trilogy and is currently in development for a movie.

I read less than 75 pages so, again, I can't comment in the whole thing. However, in that first part of the book... I did feel that the writing flowed well enough but I felt it was written in sort of a simple, straightforward manner. Not that that's a bad thing for everyone. But that in combination with the content made me feel this book might be better marketed towards young adult readers. The storyline in this first part of the book focused largely on describing Samantha's desire to escape Brooklyn, as well as her chronicling the beginning of her relationship with the popular "bad boy", Tony. I suppose I felt the characters were slightly caricature-ish... and especially in Tony, I couldn't stand it. He's one of those supposed charmers who apparently looks so good people forget he's a jerk even in the beginning. There were two other things that specifically bothered me: the constant reference to "the mob". I guess I have an idea of what the mob is, but because the character kept referencing them as though they were part of her every day life, I started to get confused and wonder what they really are. Are they a gang of rebels who merely "rule" their neighborhoods? If so, how do they get there? It was explained in too much of a commonplace manner for me to understand. The other thing that bothered me was that in the first however many pages I read there was constant, repeated reference to Samantha's desire to cross the bridge into Manhattan. I felt like saying, "I get it!" after a while and felt the cliche was overused. A little subtlety can go a long way.

All that being said, despite this not being the book for me I do feel there are readers out there who will like this book. The part I read focused a lot on the daily life of the teenage Samantha, her best friend, her boyfriend, and there was also the start of some issues with domestic violence. I can't comment on how the violence situation plays out and whether there is a good lesson to be learned or not. And I don't know if it's necessary or not. But I think especially readers of the various young adult books that have a prominent love story and focus on the adolescent life will enjoy this book.

Soooo, I am giving away an ARC of my copy of Brooklyn Story to someone who thinks they might enjoy this book. To enter, just fill out the form below. Please keep in mind that entries in the comment section will not be counted. I will choose a winner on January 3, 2011.

Sunday Salon: Christmas Edition

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Good morning all!

It's always a little sad to see Christmas go but it's good to move forward into the new year! Does anyone have fun plans for New Year's? We have a couple ideas but haven't really decided.

Did anyone have a very "bookish" Christmas? I received four books I had asked for... Palo Alto by James Franco, The Good Psychologist by Noam Schpencer, The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore, and Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I started Zeitoun yesterday and am about halfway through it. Oh, I also got a BN gift card to use for my nook! So yep, lots of reading material around here!

And just to insert something non-bookish real quick, our Orlando Magic won their Christmas Day game against the Boston Celtics... wooo hoooo!!!! That was a fun game to watch.. near the end anyway, haha.

Anyway, I'm finally starting to catch up on reading and have had some quality reading time. I also caught up on some reviews and now have FIVE reviews ready to go! I'm going to try to spread them out so maybe I'll always have some extra. Things should be good for me starting January. I'll still be in school until March, but I'll only have the ONE internship class and that's it. I'll still have internship and work, of course, but I think just not having the obligation of a whole 'nother class, PLUS, I'm going to the closer campus instead of driving out to the far campus for TWO classes so I should feel some kind of a difference. Hopefully my blog will feel it too!!

Hope everyone has a great week and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

A-Z Mystery Challenge Post

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I am joining very few challenges this year.... but my good book-bloggy friend, Michelle, over at Red Headed Book child is hosting a challenge I thought looked good!

Here are her rules:
  • Challenge runs from January 1 - December 31, 2011. Sign up ends February 1, 2011.
  • Read A-I, J-P or Q-Z. You choose. The letter group you choose must be the last name of the author. (i.e= S for John Sandford). Read a book with an author name from every letter of that group.
  • Mystery genre can include Cozy, Suspense, Thriller, or Noir. All Adult novels please.
  • Leave a comment if you would like to sign up. I am getting rid of Mr. Linky.
  • Write a post about this challenge and which group/s you pick. You can list the authors you choose or do it as you go.
  • When you post your reviews, mention this challenge and link back to this sign up post.
Michelle's also offering a giveaway for an upcoming mystery/thriller if you go sign up!
Now, we are supposed to pick a letter group... since all the challenges I do are fairly informal anyway, I'm going to sort of go ahead and attempt all the letters, LOL. I tried to narrow it down, but the specific authors I really want to try encompass all three of those groups.

Some of the authors I would like to read are:
Tana French, Stiegg Larsen, Lisa Unger, Tess Gerritsen, Dennis Lehane, Richard Castle...

Do you see what my problem is? LOL..

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares

Monday, December 20, 2010

Title: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
Authors: Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
Pages: 260
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Borzoi Knopf
Release Date: October 26, 2010

In honor of the season and my return to the blog after a short hiatus, I've decided to feature a book that incorporates this wonderful time of the year!

Though probably slightly cheesy or too innocent for some, I thought Dash and Lily's Book of Dares was so adorable and fun. Keep in mind, of course, that it takes place at Christmas time in New York City -- two of my absolutely favorite things mixed into one fun young adult book about two slight misfits looking for love.

The first scene takes place at famous NYC bookstore, The Strand. While browsing the shelves, Dash comes across an ominous red notebook. In it is a list of clues and a dare for the person who finds the book to complete. The book turns out to be one that was left by Lily via another dare. She and Dash end up passing the book back and forth across various New York City locations as they share more clues and learn more about each other.

Much of what takes place isn't at all realistic, and how coincidental that Lily and Dash both have families that have decided to leave their teenager home alone for the holidays. Dash is your typical insightful grown-up-more-than-any-kid-I-know teen and Lily is a very naive but optimistic teen... I think as long as you're willing to accept that and you're willing to take yourself back to young love, you'll thoroughly enjoy this book!

I leave you with a couple pictures from my recent NYC Christmas!

Delirious (Review & Giveaway)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Title: Delirious
Author: Daniel Palmer
Pages: 384
Genre: Mystery/Psychological Thriller
Publisher: Kensington
Release date January 25, 2011

Delirious is the perfect name for this psychological thriller from author, Daniel Palmer... after all, I was in a state of delirium the entire time I read this book -- engrossed, thrilled, and in a frenzy to find out where the story was headed, I read it late into the night and then late into the next morning. (Hey, running late to work every now and then isn't such a bad thing, right?)

Charles Giles, the main character, works high in the ranks at a large electronics firm after selling his own start-up electronics company with his technologically advanced product, InVision. Charles is proudly successful after overcoming a difficult past that included his father physically abandoning him after a psychotic break and his mother emotionally abandoning him to devote her energy into Charles's brother, Joe. First suffering from a form of epilepsy related to their father's abandonment, Joe falls in their father's footsteps by later being diagnosed with Schizophrenia.

In psychologically terrifying fashion, things start to spiral out of control and lead Charles to realize he is going crazy... I don't want to give it all away here, but let's just say strange things happen that have accompanying proof Charles did it -- and then it becomes more serious -- Charles's life comes crashing further down as his co-workers start dying and he becomes the prime suspect. Everyone believes Charles is guilty, and while he doesn't recall much, he is also sadly aware that with Schizophrenia running in his family and his being intensely overworked, he may be succumbing to the symptoms of a similar psychotic break. As the evidence against him continues to pile higher, Charles sets out to determine whether he truly is going crazy - delirious - or if someone is out to get him.

The author did such a fantastic job putting this story together. I spent the entire reading experience completely enthralled by what was happening and determined to read more so I could figure out where it could possibly be headed. One of the things I really appreciated about this book was the mental health aspect. It fit so perfectly into the story and added such an interesting dimension to the regular thriller. I also learned a little about musicogenic epilepsy, when a song triggers a seizure, that was fascinating. Palmer maintained a level of suspense that was well done and didn't seem forced at all. This book has also been referred to as "techno-savvy". I would say that's a fairly accurate description. I think I feared that it would be drenched in technological terms that would distract from the reading, but it wasn't like that at all, and really gave me some things to think about!

According to Daniel Palmer's website, Delirious is the first of a three book contract with Kensington all of which have some type of techno-focus. After reading this, I'm really looking forward to his next book which will reportedly explore the effects of "sexting". As a companion to Delirious, the author has created an InVision blog that takes place prior to the start of this book. The book comes out in January and you can pre-order it at BUT, for those of you interested, you can also enter here for a chance to win a signed ARC of the book. I know it's sort of late, but my goal is to have the book to the winner by Christmas just in case the winner wants to gift it to the mystery/thriller lover in their life... so I'll take entries until about Sunday night (12/19) and will aim at mailing out on Monday. To enter, please fill out the form below. E-mail addresses left in the comments section will not be counted.