List by Tosca
"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."
- Frederick Douglass
I wanted to write my 2011 top 5 lists for graphic novels, fiction, nonfiction, dvds and cds that I'd taken out this year. I thought it'd be a nice way to wave goodbye to 2011 and see in 2012. Two things stopped me: I'd deleted my reading history of everything I'd taken out from January 2011 - November 2011, and had read/watched/listened to 299 items from October 2011 - December 2011. The thought of trying to go through 299 titles and choose my best of the best was somewhat daunting, to say the least. It left me feeling a bit deflated. And then I thought why don't I make this post a simple list of my first 5 books for 2012, instead. Which, I think, works quite well with a couple of book goals I have: 1) get back into young adult fiction and 2) read widely. As beginnings go, it's not too bad!
What book did you kickstart the new year with? What book goals do you have in mind?
We bought a zoo : the amazing true story of a broken-down zoo, and the 200 animals that changed a family forever / Benjamin Mee
Adult nonfiction. Benjamin Mee, an animal behaviourist, and his family bought a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside, complete with over 200 exotic animals. The grand reopening was scheduled, but there was much work to be done and none of it easy for these novice zookeepers. Tigers broke loose, money ran low, the staff grew skeptical, and family tensions reached a boiling point. Then tragedy struck, and the situation went from difficult to unimaginable. Benjamin's wife Kathryn had a recurrence of a brain tumour, forcing him and his children to face heartbreak and devastating loss. But inspired by Kathryn's memory, they resolved to continue and the zoo was successfully reopened in July 2007.
Tosca's comment: My eleventh commandment is "Thou shalt read the book of the film first or FOREVER be a fake!" and, having just seen the trailer for the new Matt Damon movie, I knew I absolutely had to request the book. And I'm glad I did. It's funny, very detailed and technical and a little bit sad, too. A very heartwarming read.
Hourglass / Myra McEntire
Teen fiction. For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past. Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?
Tosca's comment: After seeing a long line of psychics and con artists, Em's brother brings in Michael, a consultant from Hourglass, who thinks he can help. Michael believes that Em's gift is just that, a gift. Not a curse. Not something to be feared. The romance between these two makes my girly genes rejoice. Seriously, the world goes topsy turvy (literally) when these two touch hands. It might seem like it couldn't work but McEntire's novel, this strangely weird and wonderful mix of genres - romance, science fiction, fantasy and paranormal - is not such an impossibility.
A summer to die / by Lois Lowry ; illustrated by Jenni Oliver
Junior fiction. Meg isn't thrilled when she gets stuck sharing a bedroom with her older sister Molly. The two of them couldn't be more different, and it's hard for Meg to hide her resentment of Molly's beauty and easy popularity. But now that the family has moved to a small house in the country, Meg has a lot to accept. Just as the sisters begin to adjust to their new home, Meg feels that Molly is starting up again by being a real nuisance. But Molly's constant grouchiness, changing appearance, and other complaints are not just part of a new mood. And the day Molly is rushed to the hospital, Meg has to accept that there is something terribly wrong with her sister. That's the day Meg's world changes forever. Is it too late for Meg to show what she really feels?
Tosca's comment: With a title like A Summer to Die I can honestly say that telling you Molly is going to die is not a spoiler. You will cry. Really, you will. You'll also identify with the squabbling siblings, cry like your heart is breaking all over again, and then you will carry on reading and, before you know it, you'll be smiling again, and feeling a little bit more hopeful about something so final.
Anna dressed in blood / Kendare Blake
Teen fiction. Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead - keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay. When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home. But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
Tosca's comment: Anybody who knows me knows that I'm a fangirl for Supernatural, the tv show, to the point where I read fanfic about not just Sam and Dean and possible hunts they could have gone on, but AU (alternate universe) stories about Jensen and Jared, the actual people themselves. Yes. I know. It's strange. The whole time I was reading this book, it made me feel like it could just as easily have been an episode of Supernatural. Admittedly, either minus one brother or a character who was an amalgam of them both. (Probably Sam, if I'm honest). It had that sort of feel about it. Part horror (seriously, a body chopped in half right before your eyes? EEEEK!), part love story (Cas finds something sweet in a ghost who kills and, truly, this gives new meaning to the phrase 'unrequited love'), that actually worked.
So silver bright / Lisa Mantchev
Teen fiction. All Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has ever wanted is a true family of her own. And she's close to reuniting her parents when her father disappears. Now Bertie must deal with a vengeful sea goddess and a mysterious queen as she tries to keep her family - and the Theatre Illuminata - from crumbling. To complicate it all, Bertie is torn between her two loves, Ariel and Nate. Lisa Mantchev's So Silver Bright brings Bertie's story to a stunning conclusion that fans of Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream won't want to miss.
Tosca's comment: Oops. This is a case of falling in like with a book cover, taking it home, and THEN realising it's a part of a series and you've daftly managed to start at the end of it. Good times! That aside, I enjoyed it. I'd even use the word 'magical' which, really, I never use because I'm always afraid the word is either overused or makes me sound twee. So, there you go. I risk being twee for you.