2011 Book Reviews

Top 5 Reads This Year

  1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. One Day by Davids Nicolls
  3. The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve
  4. My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
  5. What I Wore by Jessica Quirk

2011 Books & Reviews

What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal StyleWhat I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style by Jessica Quirk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always enjoyed Jessica Quirk’s daily blog, What I Wore, and love how she puts herself together. I thought this book was going to be a lookbook of her blog outfits, but it’s not, at all. I was happily surprised to find a bona fide style manual with NEW ideas. Jessica puts together an easy-to-follow recipe for your own closet with re-mixes that are inspired and fun. A good fashion resource for any age, body type and budget.

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seriously funny, obviously smart and not likely to ditch you at a bar, Mindy Kaling gives us the low-down on her life both pre- and post- Office success. She warns young readers not to peak in high school, gives us her rules for being a best friend and dissects romantic comedy heroines. Right up there in comedy with Chelsea Handler, but not as boozy or likely to wake up in a strange bed.

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Strutting It!: The Grit behind the GlamourStrutting It!: The Grit behind the Glamour by Jeanne Beker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Behind the scenes info on the life of a high-fashion model. Interesting asides on supermodels from Twiggy, Cindy Crawford, Chanel Iman, Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen, who according to this book, is the last supermodel of our day.

Portuguese Irregular Verbs (Portuguese Irregular Verbs, #1)Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Odd, humorous in that European intellectual kind of way. Fish out of water scenarios with three pompous scholars who are on the lecture circuit in Europe. Can’t say that I’m going to read any more of the series.

The Lucky OneThe Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Pretty much what you’d expect from a Nicolas Sparks book and just what I was looking for during the busy holiday season — a light, easy romance which I could speed through. I thought the Iraq war veteran male lead character was well-rounded and probably well-researched, and I appreciated that. The main chick-eroo was likable and a strong single mom who takes care of her aging mother as well her son. Had a good pace and underlying tension which led to a surprise ending.
The Humbling

The TreeThe Tree by John Fowles

Ninety-one pages of mind-stretching philosophy, some about nature and some about the nature of man. He explores the wildness of nature and man’s folly in trying to tame it, name it and own it. This novel and its themes could keep a person occupied for hours or years.

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The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the RoadThe Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road by Paul Theroux

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not a travel story, but rather a collection of thoughts and introspect ions on traveling. It could have been titled, A History of Travel Literature. If you’re into travel literature, you’ll find excerpts from the greats: Thoreau, Twain, Stark, Iyer, Hemingway, Burton and many others you might not know. One of my favorite quotes: “You go away for a long time and return a different person — you never come all the way back” Theroux in Dark Star Safari

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The Last Time They MetThe Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book through the Book Lust list and I feel lucky to have found it. The story journeys through two peoples lives and the three periods of time they’ve spent together: 50s, 20s and as teenagers. I’m afraid to give too much away by saying much more. The ending is mind-boggling and best kept a under-wraps until the last page.

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Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final book in the series and I had to pull myself through the pages until the second-half of the book. You’ll find more plot twists, dire situations and heart-break. It’s definitely worth finding out how the trilogy ends.

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Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is such an exciting series to read. The tension carries me through the chapters. The main character, Katniss, is strong and capable girl in an impossible situation. Her choices, love, loyalty and rebellion are felt in every page.

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Fly Away HomeFly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A story about a family of women who’s lives fall apart and each, in their own time and way, begin to find their balance again. Jennifer Weiner has a knack for writing the internal dialog that spin in a woman’s head.

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BossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I probably don’t “get” Tina Fey the way a cooler person than me would. I enjoyed the book, but I’m not going to get all superlative on you. My favorite chapters were the ones about her dad, the cover shoot and the one about how 30 Rock came about. She’s incredibly smart, humble and real.

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One DayOne Day by David Nicholls

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Exceptionally well-written and modern romance filled with missed timing, hook-ups, egos and a friendship that stands the rough waters of growing up. If you grew up in the 80s/90s the references to pop culture and world events will mirror your own.

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Tuck EverlastingTuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Magical story with a bittersweet undertone. I pre-read this book in hopes that it might be a good story to read to my kid. Having read it, I think it’s more suited to middle-school ages and beyond. Beautiful tale of ethics, choices and the eternal life.

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The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of those books that I couldn’t put down. Don’t let the Young Adult categorization throw you off this book. While it’s written in a straight-forward way, it’s not juvenile. I don’t normally go for violent books, but this one had enough heart and suspense to keep me hooked. Katniss, the main character is such a strong, kick-ass girl that you can’t help but root her on and see her through the Hunger Games. Highly recommended.

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The Sound of a Wild Snail EatingThe Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Somehow this book was captivating. I never thought I would care that much about a snail or snail’s in general, but it was fascinating. The snail becomes the author’s lifeline during her long and arduous illness and you sense the dependency and companionship that she feels for the creature.

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Three JunesThree Junes by Julia Glass

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For me, this book was a slow read. While the writing was excellent and the characters fully fleshed out, it just didn’t pull me along and keep me engaged. It’s a character driven book, rather than plot driven. The biggest take-away for me was a quote by the character Fern (part 1 & 3), where she remembers her mother saying, “mind what you love.” That’s really the crux of the whole book.

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Breaking into the BackcountryBreaking into the Backcountry by Steve Edwards

Writer wins a contest that takes him into the backcountry of Oregon for 9 months of solitude. Thoughtful, well-written and gets you into the mindset of complete isolation, yet surrounded by natural beauty.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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ReworkRework by Jason Fried

New thinking for work processes. Insightful, hard-charging and well-written. One of the best business books I’ve read in awhile.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night StandsMy Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands by Chelsea Handler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chelsea Handler is laugh-out-loud funny and wilder than anyone I know. If you’re up for living vicariously through her world, then be prepared for plenty of booze, sex and sarcasm.

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I Was Told There'd Be CakeI Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m a newly minted fan of this writer. She is smart, funny, dry, caustic, and a very, very good writer. I’d put her humor in the same neighborhood as David Sedaris and Chelsea Handler (can you imagine the block party?!) I’m on to her next book.
How Did You Get This NumberHow Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like this book of essays too, but not quite as much as the first (I Was Told There’d Be Cake). She’s incredibly witty, smart and descriptive.

Winner-Take-All Politics by Jacob S. Hacker

I’m not going to rate this book because I didn’t finish it. I bailed after the first third of the book. It’s one of those “it’s me, not you” comments. I’m sure it’s a fine read on the topic, just not what I was looking for.

If you’re looking for the best Fashion Books, I recently moved them to their own page on my blog. Also, be sure to see 2010 Books: Good and Bad with reviews and links.

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3 responses to “2011 Book Reviews

  1. Pingback: Inspired by the book: Vaclav & Lena | Buckle Button Zip

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  3. Pingback: Just Read: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore + 9 more | Buckle Button Zip

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