Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Goodreads Semifinals...voting open until November 15!!


2015 Goodreads Choice AwardsThis posting can be totally blamed on Erin at Manuscripts & Marginalia. Seriously. All. Her. Fault! I started commenting on her blog post about the Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinals, since I finally broke down and voted, and ended up with a paragraph so long that I thought. Shoot! Just a bit more text and this could be a blog post...and here it is! :)

I finally voted. I just always feel so guilty about voting without having read more than one or at least one in the various categories! :) You will probably NEVER see me vote in the HORROR, ROMANCE, or GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS categories since I never read in those genres. Likewise, you'll probably rarely ever see me select any title in FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FANTASY, FOOD & COOKBOOKS, or POETRY, since I rarely read anything in these areas. This automatically eliminates 8 of the 20  categories for this year. That makes it a bit easier! :)


Category #1    Fiction
Ah...one of my favorites--FICTION! And so many I wish to read...however, in reality, I have found time to read only one of these, Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg, which I LOVED! I will be reading Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff this week, but that really doesn't count! I suspect I will love this one as well, since many reviewers/bloggers with whom I typically agree have... 

Then the books included in this listing by authors who are favorites for me: Lisa Genova and Harper Lee. (Now you can add Bill Clegg!) 

And then the titles that all sound absolutely fascinating and are on my TBR list: Girl at War, When the Moon is Low, Trail of Broken Wings, and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

Authors I really really want to read but still haven't yet: Sarah Addison Allen (First Frost), Jojo Moyes (After You), Karen White (The Sound of Glass), Barbara Claypole White (The Perfect Son) and Anne Tyler (A Spool of Blue Thread). I hope to read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, if I can handle it, since so many have loved it so much. And I am definitely interested in all the remaining titles, except one, The Royal We doesn't interest me much...

Shall we just say Fiction is definitely my FAVORITE genre? :)

Other fiction favorites I have read this year: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, Growin' Up White by Dwight Ritter (one of my favorite books ever--blog post to come), Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon (excellent, excellent book--blog post to come), One Day by David Nicholls, The Rosie Effect and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin, and Everything I Never Told You (another absolute favorite) by Celeste Ng.


Category #2     Mystery/Thriller
Although I adore reading a 'good' (to me, at least) mystery, I typically read very few of the authors represented in this semifinal listing. 

I love the Alan Bradley series, but haven't kept up reading them after the second installment. I really should since my husband loves Flavia and this series and owns them all! 
Rather out of character for me, I adored all three of Stieg Larsson's books in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/Lisbeth Salander series! And, after hearing this NPR interview with David Lagercrantz, I just have to read The Girl in the Spider's Web! Although I own it...yep, you guessed it! I have yet to read it. Though my husband read it and was mightily impressed, feeling that it was a genuine continuation of Lisbeth's life. That is enough recommendation for me, and for all these reasons, though I've not yet experienced it, this book gets my vote! 


I really really want to read Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling's books, but although I own the first two, I have yet to read either one. :( 

The only one listed here that I have read is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. While it was definitely a page-turner and I could appreciate her writing skills, this one didn't 'knock my hat off,' as they say! It was okay...

I have read one book by several of these authors and didn't enjoy them enough to read any more: David Baldacci, JD Robb, and Harlan Coben. I did enjoy the Daniel Silva book I read, but there are other authors I enjoy much more... And since I typically don't like blood, guts, and gore, I'll probably not read any of the other titles/authors listed here. 

My nominations in this area would have included Crooked River by Valerie Geary and The Black Hour or Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day (reviews of both her books coming here at a later date). 


Category #3    Historical Fiction
The Nightingale by Kristin HannahAn absolute favorite of mine!! Four of my absolute favorite authors are represented here: Sara Gruen (remember Water for Elephants?), Paula McClain (remember The Paris Wife?), Susanna Kearsley (read and loved The Firebird), and Kristin Hannah (read and loved Firefly Lane and Fly Away and Winter Garden). Of these four, I just finished reading At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen and really liked it. Can't say I loved it, but it was definitely a good read for me. (Blog post to come...) Of these, I selected Hannah's The Nightingale. Why? I guess because I feel as if I've read enough of hers that I have absolutely loved and the Goodreads rating is really high. (My copy is currently on loan to a friend, but definitely need to get it back and read it!) 

There are only five of these books listed that I am not super-interested in reading: those by Kate Atkinson and Alice Hoffman (have never felt drawn to these authors), Rebel Queen, Epitaph, and The Taming of the Queen

Truly anxious to read all the rest! 

In this category this year I read and loved the Green Gables series by LM Montgomery, the Al Capone series by Gennifer Choldenko, and of course, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (one of my favorite books ever--blog post to come). And I just completed reading Jam On the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett and loved it! 

PLUG! PLUG! FREE ADVERTISEMENT!! Don't forget to join Bex (An Armchair By The Sea) and me beginning January 2016 for a Little House Read-Along throughout 2016! :)


Category #4    Humor
This is a relatively new thing for me. I rarely spend my limited reading time on humorous writing. Though I enjoy reading humor, I just have so many books I really really want to read! However, several months ago I began checking out audiobooks from the library and listening during my commute to and from work five days a week. And I love doing that! It really helps lighten my mood on the way there in the mornings! :)

I have read a Jen Lancaster book about 6 years ago and liked it. However, I am now on the third listen to Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson and I love this woman!! She speaks my language! (Warning: lots of 'bad words' in it!) 
Furiously Happy by Jenny  Lawson
Therefore, I voted for Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, since I'm sure I'll be listening to that one in the near future! And laughing and chuckling my way down the road! :) And how can you NOT laugh just looking at that cover? ;)

I do intend to try out a Mindy Kaling, too. This year I also listened to Yes Please by Amy Poehler and I really liked it. Though I really like her as a person, too! I feel as if I would like for her to be my friend! 


Category #5    Nonfiction
I was rather appalled to note that I didn't read one single nonfiction book this year until just recently, when I completed Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. (Yes, I am hanging my head in shame on that one!) And...I truly love nonfiction. I love to learn. And there really have been so many nonfiction books published within the last few years in which I am truly interested...but...obviously, I have not made that my priority in my 'reading schedule.' That really needs to change
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
I voted for H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald just because of the great reviews I've seen for it among bloggers/reviewers I follow and typically agree with... It sounds truly unique and informative! 

I really want to read Krakauer's book, Missoula, since that is a subject near and dear to my heart. I especially appreciate the courage it required for him to be honest in writing the book, as you can learn in the NPR interview with him. Neither Big Magic nor Modern Romance is all that appealing to me, but again, having heard and read so much positive feedback about both, I am rather interested. Rising StrongHumans of New York, and Better Than Before all interest me a lot! Guant├ínamo Diary, Ghettoside, and especially Between the World and Me are must-reads! 


Category #6    Memoir & Autobiography
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo LeeHonestly, only two strike me in this category. The most striking is The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story. Really, what could be more informative than learning of brutalitarian (I am proclaiming this as a valid word!) regimes as those of North Korea? To escape to a foreign country, learn a new language and acclimate, and THEN to return and rescue your family...wow...that is beyond heroic and courageous! 

Red Notice is the only other one I would like to read, though it brings tears to my eyes just reading the Goodreads synopsis... 


Category #7    History & Biography
Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls WilderI had to vote for Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder...because...[PLUG! PLUG!] Bex of An Armchair by the Sea and I are co-hosting a Little House Read-Along beginning in January 2016!! YAY!! Watch for information and details soon! (I may have already mentioned that...)  :)

And there are so many in the category that are on my TBR list! Honestly, anything written by Sara Vowell or Erik Larson! I actually own Dead Wake, so it needs to be read soon! :) The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue looks fascinating! I would hope I can stand to read Ravensbr├╝ck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women, because honestly, that should be the least I could do... The same for Born Survivors since reading the Goodreads synopsis has my eyes welling...to think of being pregnant and in the same camp with Mengele! Oh...it makes my heart hurt. And we here in the US should probably all be forced to read Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War...because there are consequences... Ashley's War looks to be good, and my book club loved The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, also written by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon... I can't imagine When Books Went to War and The Wright Brothers wouldn't also be well worth the reading time. 

And although I typically don't tend to read much about "famous people," I am rather fascinated by Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, especially after having heard part of the NPR interview with Kate Clifford Larson

Category #8    Science & Technology
NeuroTribes by Steve SilbermanHonestly, all these books interest me so much, I'm relatively certain I would heartily enjoy reading any of them! However, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity is a compelling topic for me. Diversity is extremely important to me in so many aspects of my life, as it is for the survival of the human race in so many ways (think biodiversity). I truly believe we are going to discover the value of embracing all, regardless of their abilities to communicate and process in expected ways... 

Second on my list would be Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel. I realize that overall we humans totally short-change animals, assuming that we alone understand virtually EVERYTHING about the world and they know nothing! But we are the stupidly arrogant ones for believing that to be so. I believe elephants to be one of the best examples currently... And if you've not yet read The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, then you have missed it...totally...missed IT!!! Get it now! :)

Having read and loved The Wave by Susan Casey, I would love to read The Voices in the Ocean. Again, especially after hearing part of her NPR interview! (Yes, I am an NPR NERD!!) Oliver Sacks' On the Move is a wonderful read, I am sure! He is/was amazing! Here's an NPR presentation about him...

Whew! Only 4 more categories to go...this is exhausting...and exhilarating! :) Okay...


Category #9    Debut Goodreads Author
The Fishermen by Chigozie ObiomaI am totally enamored with The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma! It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year. I really must fit this one in...soon!! :)

I keep hearing so much about Dietland, but I still can't get truly interested enough to want to read it. I definitely want to read Girl at War and maybe Everything, Everything....

                   Category #10    Young Adult Fiction
All the Bright Places by Jennifer NivenI've not read much of anything in this category this year. My vote went to one that has been on top of one of my TBR piles for sooooooo long! I have read rave reviews and have been told Niven uses settings local to where I currently live. It is All the Bright Places and it must be read by year's end. Really. It. Must. :) I've also owned Velva Jean Learns to Drive, also written by Niven, for several years now and it also hasn't been read! Yikes!!

Last year, I read Eleanor & Park, The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and Paper Towns--all of which I loved!! Paper Towns was my least favorite of these four, but I did still love it! But if you've not read any of these, at least read the first two! Truly classics, in my opinion! I look forward to reading more of Green! 

Only two more! YAY!! 


Category #11    Middle Grade & Children's 
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali BenjaminWith 11 grandchildren, I adore this category. I love nothing more than puchasing books for them, reading them, then delivering to these adorable kids! Then...if they read them, we can discuss! No greater joy for this bibliomaniac grandma! I plan to purchase The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, read and review it, then pass it along--hopefully all before year's end! This book appeals to me on all levels: the cover is fascinating, the story line sounds both familiar and unique, and the title is enthralling to me! (I can't wait!) I still adore reading children's literature! 

Serafina and the Black Cloak looks amazing, too! And Echo sounds wonderful! I'm really interested to read A Handful of Stars, as well as Rules, the 2007 Newbery Honor book also authored by Cynthia Lord. The War That Saved My Life and The Penderwicks in Spring look to be good reads, too! And, of course, Crenshaw looks to be absolutely amazing!!! My book club read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate last year and adored it! (I really need to post a review!) Can't imagine this newer release about a cat won't be wonderful, too! And...it's a cat!!! (We share our house with five felines!

My finds in this area from this year include the Al Capone series by Gennifer Choldenko--excellent historical fiction and wonderfully vibrant and well-drawn characterization! I love her writing! And don't forget L.M. Montgomery's Green Gable series! Amazing! Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era by Sterling North was another winning title, though I truly finished it at the end of 2014, I'm cheating to include it here as an 'almost' 2015 read! All three of these mentions also qualify as great historical fiction! 

And...I may have mentioned the upcoming Little House Read-Along with myself and Bex, to begin January 2016! An excellent opportunity to involve your children/grandchildren/whomever in a reading activity. Just one book per month! Details to be published next week! 


The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew DaywaltCategory #12    Picture Books
Ah, I adore almost all picture books! I voted for The Day The Crayons Came Home simply because this series has been so highly recommended. I probably will purchase at least one for my grandchildren, to see! And really, every single one of the others looks to be fantastic. Perhaps Last Stop on Market Street and Winnie grabbed my attention the most of those remaining...but really, how can you miss with a picture book?!? :)

How did you vote? What is your criteria? 

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