What I Have Read – 2012
Marie Antoinette: The Journey, Antonia Frazer (Biography)
France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so often accorded tragic figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted, privileged, but otherwise unremarkable child was thrust into an unparalleled time and place, and was commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette, one of the most recognizable women in European history, excites compassion and regard for all aspects of her subject, immersing the reader not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but also in the unraveling of an era.
Madame Taussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution, Michelle Moran (Historical Fiction)
Marie Tussaud has learned the secrets of wax sculpting by working alongside her uncle in their celebrated wax museum, the Salon de Cire. From her popular model of the American Ambassador, Thomas Jefferson, to her tableau of the royal family at dinner, Marie’s museum provides Parisians with the very latest news on fashion, gossip, even politics. Her customers hail from every walk of life, and when word arrives that the royals themselves are coming to see their likenesses, Marie never dreams that the king’s sister will request her presence at Versailles as a royal tutor in wax sculpting. Yet when a letter with a gold seal is delivered to her home, Marie knows she cannot refuse—even if it means time away from her beloved Salon and her increasingly dear friend, Henri Charles.
As Marie becomes acquainted with her pupil, Princess Élisabeth, she is taken to meet both Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI, who introduce her to the glamorous life at court. From lavish parties with more delicacies than she’s ever seen, to rooms filled with candles lit only once before being discarded, Marie steps into to a world entirely different from her home on the Boulevard du Temple, where people are selling their teeth in order to put food on the table.
Meanwhile, many resent the vast separation between rich and poor. In salons and cafés across Paris, people like Camille Desmoulins, Jean-Paul Marat, and Maximilien Robespierre are lashing out against the monarchy. Soon, there’s whispered talk of revolution…Will Marie be able to hold on to both the love of her life and her friendship with the royal family as France approaches civil war? And more importantly, will she be able to fulfill the demands of powerful revolutionaries who ask that she make the death masks of beheaded aristocrats, some of whom she knows?
Spanning five years from the budding revolution to the Reign of Terror, Madame Tussaud brings us into the world of an incredible heroine whose talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom.
– Taken from the official synopsis
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins (YA Fiction)
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?
In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before—and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins (YA Fiction)
Sparks are igniting, flames are spreading and the Capitol wants revenge.
Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol– a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.
Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.
In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before… and surprising readers at every turn.
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (YA Fiction)
My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead.
Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.
It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains–except Katniss.
The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan (YA Fiction)
Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school… again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.
Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.
Graceling, Kristin Cashore (YA Fiction)
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away… a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
Searching for God Knows What, Donald Miller (Non Fiction)
In Searching for God Knows What, Donald Miller’s provocative and funny book, he shows readers that the greatest desire of “every” person is the desire for redemption. Every person is constantly seeking redemption (or at least the feeling of it) in his or her life, believing countless gospels that promise to fix the brokenness. Typically their pursuits include the desire for fulfilling relationships, successful careers, satisfying religious systems, status, and escape. Miller reveals how the inability to find redemption leads to chaotic relationships, self-hatred, the accumulation of meaningless material possessions, and a lack of inner peace. Readers will learn to identify in themselves and within others the universal desire for redemption. They will discover that the gospel of Jesus is the only way to find meaning in life and true redemption. Mature believers as well as seekers and new Christians will find themselves identifying with the narrative journey unfolded in the book, which is simply the pursuit of redemption.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life, Donald Miller (Memoir)
Full of beautiful, heart-wrenching, and hilarious stories, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details one man’s opportunity to edit his life as if he were a character in a movie.
Years after writing his best-selling memoir, Donald Miller went into a funk and spent months sleeping in and avoiding his publisher. One story had ended, and Don was unsure how to start another.
But he gets rescued by two movie producers who want to make a movie based on his memoir. When they start fictionalizing Don’s life for film–changing a meandering memoir into a structured narrative–the real-life Don starts a journey to edit his actual life into a better story. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details that journey and challenges readers to reconsider what they strive for in life. It shows how to get a second chance at life the first time around.
Fire, Kristin Cashore (YA Fiction)
She is the last of her kind…
It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.
Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praised Graceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don’t need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven’t, you’ll be dying to read it next.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan (YA Fiction)
Percy Jackson’s seventh-grade year has been surprisingly quiet. Not a single monster has set foot on his New York prep-school campus. But when an innocent game of dodgeball among Percy and his classmates turns into a death match against an ugly gang of cannibal giants, things get… well, ugly. And the unexpected arrival of his friend Annabeth brings more bad news: the magical borders that protect Camp Half-Blood have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and unless a cure is found, the only safe haven for demigods will be destroyed.
In this fresh, funny, and wildly popular follow-up to The Lightning Thief, Percy and his friends must journey into the Sea of Monsters to save their camp. But first, Percy will discover a stunning new secret about his family–one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.
– Official Blurb
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (YA Fiction)
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”
So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.
Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer (Fiction)
With only a yellowing photograph in hand, a young man–also named Jonathan Safran Foer–sets out to find the woman who may or may not have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. Accompanied by an old man haunted by memories of the war; an amorous dog named Sammy Davis, Junior, Junior; and the unforgettable Alex, a young Ukrainian translator who speaks a sublimely butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic journey over a devastated landscape and into an unexpected past.
– Official Blurb
Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, Morgan Matson (YA Fiction)
It wouldn’t be a road trip without some detours…
Amy Curry is not looking forward to her summer. Her mother decided to move across the country and now it’s Amy’s responsibility to get their car from California to Connecticut. The only problem is, since her father died in a car accident, she isn’t ready to get behind the wheel. Enter Roger. An old family friend, he also has to make the cross-country trip–and has plenty of baggage of his own. The road home may be unfamiliar–especially with their friendship venturing into uncharted territory–but together, Amy and Roger will figure out how to map their way.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer (Fiction)
Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history.
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams (Fiction)
Book Two in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy of Five
When all questions of space, time, matter and the nature of being have been resolved, only one question remains – “Where shall we have dinner?”
“The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” provides the ultimate gastronomic experience, and for once there is no morning after to worry about.
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (YA Fiction)
Sandwiched between two exceptional siblings, Taylor Edwards never felt like she stood out–except for her history of running away when things get too complicated. Then her dad receives unexpected, terrible news, and the family makes the last-minute decision to spend the summer together in the cramped quarters at their old lake house.
Taylor hasn’t been to the summerhouse since she was twelve, and she definitely never planned on going back. Up at the lake she is confronted with people she thought she left behind, like her former best friend Lucy, and Henry Crosby, her first crush, who’s all grown up… and a lot cuter. Suddenly Taylor is surrounded by memories she’d rather leave in the past–but she can’t run away this time.
As the days lying on the beach pass into nights gazing at the stars, Taylor realizes she has a second chance–with friends, with family, maybe even with love. But she knows that once the summer ends, there is no way to recapture what she stands to lose. From Morgan Matson, the PW Flying Start author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, this is a remarkable new novel about hope in the face of heartbreaking grief.
– Official Blurb
Reader’s Note: Baker boys are the new vampires.
The Giver, Lois Lowry (YA Fiction)
Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community.
When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now it’s time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.
– Official Blurb
Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore (YA Fiction)
Book Three in the Graceling Realm series
How can she finder her place as a true queen when her kingdom is only just waking up from the thirty-five-year spell of a madman?
In a world where a small percentage of people have an extreme skill called a Grace, King Leck’s Grace allowed him to tell lies that everyone believed.
When Bitterblue became queen at ten years old, she thought her father’s murder meant the end of his violent, sociopathic influence.
She was wrong.
The intensely anticipated companion to the New York Times bestsellers Gracling and Fire is even more “rageful, exhilarating, wistful,” and romantic. Now eighteen and believeing her advisers are overprotecting her, Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle at night to walk the streets of her own city, disguised and alone—risking her life as well as her heart.
The Last Sin-Eater, Francine Rivers (Christian Fiction)
All that matters for Cadi Forbes is finding the one man who can set her free from the sin that plagues her days and nights… the sin that has stolen her mother’s love from her and made her wish she could flee life and its terrible justice.
She knows it’s forbidden, that doing so will bring curses down on her—but something deep and instinctive moves her, against all dire warnings, to find the “sin eater.”
Before their journeys are over, Cadi and the sin eater must face themselves, each other—and the One who will demand all from them in exchange for the answers they seek.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Titan’s Curse, Rick Riordan (YA Fiction)
Book Three in Percy Jackson & the Olympians
When Percy Jackson receives an urgent distress call from his friend Grover, he immediately prepares for battle. He knows he’ll need his powerful demigod allies at his side; his trusty bronze sword, Riptide; and… a ride from his mom.
The demigods race to the rescue to find that Grover has made an important discovery: two new powerful half-bloods, whose parentage is unknown. But that’s not all that awaits them. The Titan lord, Kronos, has set up a devious trap, and the young heroes have just fallen prey.
Hilarious and action-packed, this third adventure in the series finds Percy faced with his most dangerous challenge yet—the chilling prophecy of the Titan’s curse.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling (Autobiography-Memoir-Essay-Rant)
Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck-impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night) or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mind Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.
And God Came In: The Extraordinary Story of Joy Davidman, Lyle W. Dorsett (Biography)
They were an unlikely pair. C.S. Lewis: Oxford don, middle-aged bachelor, scholar, writer, and popular theologian. Joy Davidman: a Jewish woman from the Bronx, somewhat brash ex-communist, divorcee, poet and novelist. Yet theirs would become a relationship marked by intellectual vitality, enthusiastic camaraderie, and enduring love.
Lyle Dorsett’s classic biography of Joy Davidman offers a fresh look at the life of the woman who became Mrs. Lewis and on the marriage of two remarkable people. And God Came In chronicles God’s hand on their lives apart and their life together, a compelling account of faith and love.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan (YA Fiction)
Book Four in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series
Percy Jackson isn’t expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to worse.
In this fourth installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos’s army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. To stop the invasion, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth—a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn.
The Once and Future King, T.H. White (Fantasy)
Once upon a time, a young boy called “Wart” was tutored by a magician named Merlyn in preparation for a future he couldn’t possibly imagine. A future in which he would ally himself with the greatest knights, love a legendary queen and unite a country dedicated to chivalrous values. A future that would see him crowned and known for all time as Arthur, King of the Britons.
During Arthur’s reign, the kingdom of Camelot was founded to cast enlightenment on the Dark Ages, while the knights of the Round Table embarked on many a noble quest. But Merlyn foresaw the treachery that awaited his liege: the forbidden love between Queen Guenever and Lancelot, the wicked plots of Arthur’s half-sister Morgause, and the hatred she fostered in Mordred that would bring an end to the king’s dreams for Britain—and to the king himself.
Henry V, William Shakespeare (Drama, History)
Shakespeare’s history play of the life of Henry V, focusing on the Battle of Agincourt.
(There are no blurbs for this play. Every book jacket and online summary either tells you what amazing features the particular copy you are holding can offer you to help you understand all that crazy English, or analyzes the entire play.)
The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill (Biography)
“I pray that God forgives me…”
Corrie ten Boom stood naked with her older sister Betsie, watching a concentration camp matron beating a prisoner. “Oh, the poor woman,” Corrie cried. “Ye. May God forgive her,” Betsie replied. And, once again, Corrie realized that it was for the souls of the brutal Nazi guards that her sister prayed.
Both women had been sent to the camp for helping the Jews. Christ’s spirit and words were their guide; it was His persecuted people they tried to save—at the risk of their own lives; it was His strength that sustained them through times of profound horror.
Here is a book aglow with the glory of God and the courage of a quiet Christian spinster whose life was transformed by it. A story of Christ’s message and the courageous woman who listened and lived to pass it along—with joy and triumph!
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan (YA Fiction)
Book Five in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series
All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos’s army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan’s power only grows.
While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it’s up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.
In this momentous final book in the New York Times bestselling series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy’s sixteenth birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.
The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien (Fantasy)
Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse, unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo—alone and unaided—who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside…
Peter and the Starcatcher, Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson (Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Fiction, Fantasy)
In an evocative and fast-paced adventure on the high seas and on a faraway island, an orphan boy named Peter and his mysterious new friend, Molly, overcome bands of pirates and thieves in their quest to keep a fantastical secret safe and save the world from evil. This impossible-to-put-down tale leads readers on an unforgettable journey—fraught with danger, yet filed with mystical and magical moments.