Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: A Year In Review

10. Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly ~ This was a funny suspenseful thriller that had me up reading into the wee hours of the morning. Although, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found the main character to be an interesting one.

9. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote ~ This true crime novel, frequently toted as the first of its kind, is beautifully written. Mr. Capote was able to produce empathy for the murderers in the way he told their stories, although not taking away the desire for the reader to see them to face the consequences of their actions.

8. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie ~ A delightful mystery! Agatha Christie was my designated favorite mystery writer when I was growing up and she is still among my favorites.

7. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse ~ I found the story mesmerizing, full of suspense as well as drama. I loved the historical aspect of the novel most of all.

6. Tales From the Child of the Enemy by Ursula Duba ~ Although simple in its presentation (in poetry form), Ms. Duba’s book is thought provoking and conscious raising.

5. The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder ~ Books that balance historical events with the present seem to be among my favorites most often, I've discovered. This novel offered that and so much more. It was one of the best suspense/thriller novels I've read.

4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho ~ Stealing a line directly from my review: Upon finishing the book, I understand what the publisher Harper Collins meant when it referred to the book as being like “getting up at dawn and seeing the sun rise while the rest of the world sleeps.” That’s truly what it feels like.

The race for 1st place was very close. After much thought and several one-sided debates with Anjin (who just listened because he hadn't read any of the books--it's amazing what he puts up with when it comes to me!) and a last minute rearraging because I still couldn't make up my mind, I finally settled on an order I think I can live with. Drum roll please . . .

3. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield ~ Admittingly, having just finished The Thirteenth Tale, it is the most fresh in my mind and perhaps that is part of the reason I was so tempted to put it in the top spot. Alas, two other books consumed me just a little more and so The Thirteenth Tale finds its place as #3 on my list. It was well written, intriguing, and spoke to me, sometimes the voice sounding a little like mine.

2. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova ~ I was lost in the prose as soon as I began reading and held in suspense with each chapter. I was transported directly into Kostova's world as I read, held captive even when I was not reading the book.

1. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See ~ Snow Flower and The Secret Fan left a deep impression on me. I started blogging several months after I read this particular book, and so no review is posted. Straight from my notes:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005)
See, Lisa (Fiction) (258 pgs)
Completed: 04/09/2006
Rating: Excellent

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the story about the lives of two special friends in nineteenth-century China. The two girls are matched as laotongs, a rare friendship that is established between two girls specially chosen to be lifelong friends. They communicate through a secret language called nu shu.

The descriptions and writing style of Lisa See, the author, brought to mind Arthur Golden with
Memoirs of a Geisha. I found the historical and cultural aspects of the novel intriguing: the foot binding process, the role of women in society and within the family, for example. The chapter and description of the foot binding process was difficult to read at times. Foot binding was a big part of the Chinese culture during that time period and a reflection on the place of women in society. It was believed that foot binding was proof of personal discipline and an ability to endure the pain of child birth as well as whatever other misfortunes might come. Small feet were a sign of beauty. The smaller the feet, the better the wife. Lisa See painted a disturbing portrait of women’s roles in those days, where only having male offspring made a woman valuable and women were the property of their husband’s family. While this idea still exists today in one form or another in some cultures, it was even more widespread back then.

The friendship and misunderstandings between Snow Flower and Lily brought to mind Hassan and Amir from Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. Like it did for Amir, my heart ached for Lily and the poor choices she made, which ultimately caused a riff in her friendship with Snow Flower.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a powerful novel, not one that I will easily forget, and is by far the best novel I’ve read so far this year.

Longest Book Read In 2006 ~ The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (676 pgs)

Shortest Book Read In 2006 ~ Tales From A Child of the Enemy by Ursula Duba (155 pgs)

Best Series In Which I Am Caught Up ~ Jim Butcher's Dresden Files

Best Nonfiction ~ Tales From A Child of the Enemy by Ursula Duba

Favorite Comfort Read ~ Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series

New To Me Authors Most Likely To Become Long-Term Favorites ~
Mario Acevedo
Mark Billingham
Paulo Coelho
Yasmina Khadra
Fannie Flagg
Mo Hayder
T. Jefferson Parker
Ian Sansom
Diane Setterfield
Daniel Silva
Minette Walters

Funniest Narrator ~ Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich)

Characters I'd Like To Hang With ~
Sookie Stackhouse (Charlaine Harris)
Mma Ramotswe (Alexander McCall Smith)
Kitty Norville (Carrie Vaughn)
Joanna Brady (J.A. Jance)
Ruth Jamison (Fannie Flagg)
Noah Jordain (M.J. Rose)
Grandma Mazur (Janet Evanovich)
Mina Harker (Bram Stoker)
Dr. Clifton (Diane Setterfield)

Detectives I would Like On My Case ~
JP Beaumont (J.A. Jance)
Harry Bosch (Michael Connelly)

As Back-Up ~
Carson Ryder & Harry Nautilis (Jack Kerley)
Alex Cross (James Patterson)

Characters I Would Like To Have At My Side If Danger Comes Knocking At My Door ~
Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher)
Clay Danvers (Kelley Armstrong)
Gabriel Allon (Daniel Silva)
Micah Dalton (David Stone)

Therapist Whose Couch I Would Be Most Comfortable On ~ Frank Clevenger (Keith Ablow)

Lawyer I Would Hire If I Was In a Jam On the Right Side Of the Law ~ Alexandra Cooper (Linda Fairstein)

Lawyer I Would Hire In a Jam If I Wasn't ~ Michael Haller (Michael Connelly)

Fantasy World I Wouldn't Mind Stepping Into ~ Kyralia (The Black Magician Trilogy, Trudi Cananvan)

2006 Reading Trends ~

Total Books Read - 115

Books Read by Genre -
35 Mysteries
27 Suspense/Thrillers
22 Fantasy
23 Fiction
4 Nonfiction
3 Horror
1 Romance

Authors Read by Gender -
41 Females
32 Males

Books Read by Authors' Gender -
69 Females
44 Males

Average Books Read per Author (by Gender) -
1.69 Females
1.38 Males

Books Read by Rating -
12 Excellent
6 Very Good +
33 Very Good
27 Good +
29 Good
5 Fair +
3 Fair

Total Books I was Unable to Read to Completion: 1

Book Size -
4 Pint Size Books (200 pgs and Under)
51 Intermediate Books (201-350 pgs)
53 Substantial Books (351-500 pgs)
7 Chunkster Books (501+ pgs)

Books Read by Type -
29 Hardback Books
39 Trade Paperback Books (9 Advanced Reader's Editions, ARE)
46 Paperback Boooks
1 Manuscript Copy (1 ARE)

Books Read by Year of Publication -
93 in the 2000's (39 in 2006 alone)
16 in the 1990's
3 in the 1980's
1 each in 1965, 1926, and 1897

That sums up my reading year. It was a great year overall, and I am looking forward to seeing where my books take me in 2007.

Have a very Happy New Year everyone!
Best wishes in the New Year.


  1. WOW!!! I must say..."I'm impressed!" Your stats are amazing and fun to read. Being that I read your other post, I was able to surmise your favorites. :)

    I understand your choice in SNOWFLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, which I rated a 4/5. I really enjoyed it; however, years ago my favorite was MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA and I somehow always compare similar genres to that.

    Love the picture of the kitties in the box.

    Happy New Year to you, too. I hope it is book-filled!

  2. Love all you stats!! I wish you a happy bookish new year!


  3. I really love your site! I have just started keeping track of what I read and I really like your format that you use for reviewing your books! I hope you don't mind if I use the same format? Happy reading in 2007!

  4. Great blog! Excellent writing... you've got a new devoted reader!

  5. I like those stats, you've inspired me to keep a more detailed record this year :-)
    I *need* to by The Historian this month for my bookgroup read, so looking forward to it.

  6. Great post, I love all the little details and stats. You give me more great ideas for stuff to track with my reading in '07. Have a blessed and wonderful New Year! I look forward to more of your blogging goodness!

  7. I'm blushing! You all are too kind! I hope you all have a wonderful New Year also.

    Joy - I guess it was kind of obvious, wasn't it? What my favorites would be? And I keep talking about them wherever I go.

    Heather - Thanks for stopping in. I've never made a list like that before and thought it would be fun. Another friend of mine did something similar and so I just followed her lead.

    Kim - I just got back from visiting your blog (great site, by the way!). Any fan of Lost and Grey's Anatomy is a friend of mine. :-) I don't mind at all if you want to use the same or a similar format for your reviews. I actually got the idea from someone else this past summer.

    JCR - Thank you for the compliment. I'm glad you visited my blog!

    Lazy Cow - There were couple of categories I noticed others keeping track of that I'd like to add to my list for next year. I can just see it now, a mile long blog post! Haha

    I do hope you enjoy The Historian. I know that it's gotten a lot of mixed reviews, but I'm one of the people who loved it and will definitely be re-reading it. Someday.

  8. Thanks, Carl! I love putting together stuff like this. It's no wonder it's one of my favorite times of year. Have a Happy New Year!

  9. Wow - what a fantastic list! I see we both read In Cold Blood this year and have it in our "best of" category :) You have a terrific blog, too!

  10. I'v heard good things about The Alchemist. Must investigate it for my own reading. As well as The Thirteenth Tale. I've not heard anyone say it waas bad.

    Love the new look! Happy New Year!

  11. Excellent list, kitty. I'm going to give the Dresden files a look. Seems interesting. Thanks for the recommendations.

  12. Love all your comments and stats!

    I have THE HISTORIAN sitting here unread - I'll have to work on that one.

    Which book couldn't you finish?

  13. Ex Libris - Thank you for the kind words about my blog! I just love those kittens.

    In Cold Blood was a wonderful book, wasn't it? I read it because I knew the movie was coming out and I'd heard such great things about the book.

    Stefanie - I hope you will give The Alchemist a try. It wasn't at all what I expected, but then, I'm not sure what I expected. I recently picked up a couple of his other books I'd like to read.

    Kookiejar - Jim Butcher is one of my favorite urban fantasy writers (for those who don't know: wizard who is a P.I. sort in modern day Chicago). The Dresden Files is being made into a TV series closer to the end of this month. Or maybe it's a mini-series. I'm not sure which. I'm curious to see how it will turn out.

    Good luck with the challenges, by the way! I see we both plan to read I Know This Much Is True for the Chunkster Challenge. :-)

    Lynne - So nice to "see" you! The book I couldn't finish was Haweswater by Sarah Hall. I may try it again sometime. Perhaps it wasn't the right time to try and read the novel.

  14. Hello, I also love reading and the work of Paulo Coelho!!!! Do you know that he has a newsletter?
    You can also go to his blog and comment with other readers your
    it's simply wonderful!

    Happy Holidays! Best wishes!

  15. Wow, you actually have a graph!?! That's amazing. ;)

    The only book on your top ten that I've actually read is The Thirteenth Tale. Lots of good ideas for what I can read in 2007!

  16. Aart - Thank you for the links. I will definitely take a look. I recently purchased two of Paulo Coelho's novels, The Zahir and Veronika Decides to Die. I am looking forward to reading them.

    Sara - I wish I could take credit for the graph, but it was all my husband's doing. I keep a list of the books I read in excel and he was able to whip up the graph in no time.

  17. y New Year! Even though I am a bit late getting around, I love reading these wrap up posts. I really liked the Lisa See book, too!

  18. Wow! Your top 10 is impressive. I loved several of your choices. I enjoyed Lincoln Lawyer, In cold Blood, Snowflower and the secret fan and the Agatha Christie. We have similar tastes. Oh I liked Thirteenth Tale too.

    I love your blog! The kitties are so cute.

  19. Danielle - Happy New Year to you too. Yes, the wrap up posts are so much fun. I enjoy reading the also. I hope to try something else by Lisa See one of these days. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was a such a good book.

    Janet - Thanks, Janet! The kitties are adorable aren't they? It's always nice to meet people with similar reading tastes. :-)

  20. I like your list! I was excited to see it since I knew you were going to have fun categories, too :-) I think we read some of the same books, but have slightly different takes on them- I think I was one of the few people who was not that impressed by Snow Flower, and I didn't much care for The Historian, either. But I really liked The Thirteenth Tale! And I like the way you put a list of the genres of books you read in 2006. Maybe if I make a 2007 tag, I can do that through LibraryThing this year!

  21. Aarti - I've been taking notes on what everyone did in their year end round up and hope to incoporate some of the ideas next year. :-) Thanks to you for getting me thinking in that direction!


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