Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

2010 Wrap Up: It’s all about the follow through! December 31, 2010

We made it! 52 books a piece. 52 weeks. Lots of sacrifice. PHEW. Challenge indeed.

We’ve done what we said we would and we’re here to debrief!

Also, at the end of this wrap-up, scroll down to get the inside scoop on the challenge we’re embarking on for 2011!

Yep. That’s right, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Have no fear, the Bookwormz will keep you in book suggestions for another year!  🙂

“So we hear you’re reading 52 books in 52 weeks” What’s been the most popular question people ask when you tell them about this challenge?

FBK: The first comment is always, “A book a week?”, to which (mathematically) is correct. 😉 Then they ask how many I’ve read already and what my favorite and least favorite books of the year are. It’s quite the challenge and most folks are surprised and astonished at the sheer volume of books. (Enough to make your head spin!)

LL: Folks always ask me what my favorite book is. Oh and then they say “how do you have that much time to read?” to which I say “Ah hah. The difference is I make time to read.”  I don’t go to the movies and haven’t been since I saw Avatar last winter. I barely make time to watch my Netflix movies so instead of going out, we stay in and when I’m ready for bed, I cuddle up and read every nightwhich relaxes me, gets my mind on something else and helps me sleep better. I also learned that I don’t go anywhere without a book. One time a friend got lost on her way to meet me so I had an entire 45 minutes to read! While I’m waiting for friends, waiting at doctor’s appointments, in airports,  sometimes if I take a lunch break and often times I’ll opt to read instead of chatting on the phone or watching TV. As you can see, lots of sacrifices are made for something that you make a priority in your life.

How did you select which book you would read and when?

FBK: That depended on a variety of things. If it was a book I was checking out at the library, that moved to the top of the list. (There are limits there, ya know) As evidenced in my selections for 2010, I read a lot of non-fiction. That being said, after about two or three non-fiction books, I like to get into a fictional story and sort of “lose myself.” So I tried to alternate between the two and it just depended on what was available and when!

LL: Pretty randomly actually. Publishers would send us books to review, or whatever became available on my queue at the library, or whatever bookclub may have selected for that particular month. I love that there was no rhyme or reason and we were free to read whatever, whenever!

Did you have a favorite character from a book  you read?

FBK: Without a doubt, Bailey from A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. (You didn’t say it had to be a HUMAN character!) 😉

LL: Even though the ending really let me down, I loved Jacob from House Rules by Jodi Picoult. He had great intentions but was so misunderstood.

Which book was your biggest challenge and why?

FBK: Precious by Sapphire. It wasn’t until after I finished the book that I realized it was actually a work of fiction. While parts of it are based on reality, the story in its entirety is fiction. It was a struggle from the beginning to get past the language and some of the horrific scenes. This was also the first audiobook I’d ever listened to and it was challenging for me to continue. Parts of this story actually made me nauseous and I questioned the author’s judgment upon learning it was a fictional story. Stories can be told without the vulgarity that makes up the story of Precious. Given the challenges of this book, I actually gave it a “No Rating” review on this blog.

LL: Oogy by Larry Levin. I have such a tender heart for animals, hence my involvement in Akita Rescue. I had a lump in my throat the entire book through. Although the story has a happy ending, it is truly horrific to learn how awful humans can be to innocent animals. The author’s choppy style didn’t flow well either so I felt uneasy the entire way through.

What was the hardest thing about this challenge?

FBK: The challenge itself! Reading 52 books in one year along with all of life’s other commitments is a daunting task. I had a slower start than I should have at the beginning of the year and I really felt the crunch by the time November hit. I began to pick the shortest books I could find which was only robbing myself because I wasn’t going for the story itself, rather the quick length to meet the challenge.

LL: 1) Toward the end of the challenge, feeling the crunch and not being able to read the books I wanted to read because they were 400+ pages. I kept my December reads to 300 pages and under which was quite tough. So as you can imagine, I have quite the stack of books to get to that I’ve been waiting until 2011 for and 2) having to make a conscious choice to opt to read instead of doing so many other things. I also didn’t factor in how time consuming it’d be to crank out a journal-style reaction/review after each book.

What was the easiest thing about this challenge?

FBK: Getting to read constantly!

LL: We love reading, meeting new people, talking about books and meeting amazing authors!

Would you have changed anything about this challenge?

FBK: No but I am pretty sure I won’t try to read 52 in one year again! 😉

LL: Nothing. I loved the learning experience of this challenge. Reading is FUNdamental and I truly expanded my horizons!

What did you think about having to post a blog review in addition to reading 52  books?

FBK: I didn’t really think twice about it. I’d been posting reviews on books I read on PaperBackSwap or Good Reads prior to this challenge. So it was something I was already familiar with, but I did like having them all in the same place. The reviews I shared on our blog are also posted on Good Reads as I still think that’s a great website for checking other’s opinions if you’re in doubt about a book!

LL: So many feelings one gets from reading are in the abstract and cannot be articulated properly, especially when under a time crunch. So, feeling pressurized to write insightful and thorough book reviews is tough. My goal wasn’t to give you a play-by-play of the book. I gave you the publisher’s book description followed by my personal thoughts, feelings and reactions and a rating from 1-5. If you’re intrigued to read the book, I think this is more than sufficient.

Are you glad you signed on for this challenge?

FBK: Yes and I’m also glad it’s over! 😉 haha!

LL: Most definitely! I met so many amazing authors, read books that took me FAR out of my comfort zone, and I loved sharing the blog with strangers I’d meet. I also feel an amazing sense of pride in the fact that I successfully completed my first ever New Year’s Resolution! It was also a shocking conversation piece. You wouldn’t believe what people share about reading and how disarming of a topic it can be. Reading spans religion, race, country, and political beliefs. Even if you don’t share the same walk of life, everyone can appreciate reading. Reading brings people together.

What was the most unexpected thing about this experience?

FBK: The following we received. I remember posting a review and less than 12 hours later had a comment from the author himself! I’m not sure how he knew I posted it but that was pretty cool 🙂 For me, it’s been fun to make friends with the authors whose work I really admire!

LL: Getting free books and meeting some of the most prolific authors!

What are you looking forward to most about the new 2011 challenge?

FBK: Next year’s challenge will be less in quantity so will be more on the “fun side” rather than “challenging” per se.

LL: Having a bit more wiggle room to read bigger books (aka Chunksters)!

What were your top favorite picks of 2010 (in no particular order).

FBK:

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

2. Spoken From the Heart by Laura Bush

3. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

4. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

6. Who Do I Lean On? by Neta Jackson

7. Really Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs

8. Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey

9. Radical by David Platt

10. So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore

LL:

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

2. ROOM by Emma Donoghue

3. The Thirteenth Take by Diane Setterfield

4. The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

5. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Jessica Skloot

7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

8. Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

9. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

10. The Blue Notebook by James Levine

Was it hard to stay true to the book buying ban?

FBK: No way! There are too many resources to be spending money on every book we read. (And at 52 books a year, that would have been A LOT!) However, I love to support authors whose books I really enjoy and I do not hesitate to purchase a book at a signing that I will keep and share with friends. I love the chance to meet the author, thank them for their work and hear their thoughts and opinions on their books. So book signings are where I indulge guilt-free!

LL: Not at all!! I love the library, Paperbackswap.com, borrowing from friends or getting free books from publishers. Besides, I hate clutter, I love saving money, AND hate to buy books that I don’t know for sure I will love. Only my favorite books and those autographed by the author are worth keeping on my shelf! Less is more. 🙂

Talk about some of the sacrifices you made in 2010 to complete this challenge.

FBK: In hindsight, it seems I didn’t have as much free time…wonder why?? No really, this was a challenge of discipline and once finishing one book, it was literally time to pick up the next and start on page 1. To answer my sacrifice in a word…time. Time that I could be doing a thousand other things, but I was reading instead.

LL: Less time talking on the phone, less time watching DV-R’d shows, didn’t go out to the movies for the entire year either! I barely have time to watch my Netflix weekly movie so I definitely made the sacrifice and I am thankful I did. I feel so accomplished and thankful to have done this with Fabookulous as my partner in crime. It’s always better together 🙂

Alright, now for the information you’ve all been waiting for…what will we do in 2011?!

Click here for the skinny!

We hope you’ll continue to follow us, continue to stop by and give us your feedback, offer us your book suggestions especially for the tougher letters,  and most of all keep us motivated!

Happy New Year and we’ll see you around the alphabet…

Warmest wishes,

The Bookwormz

 

Book #52: Fabookulous

Stay by Allie Larkin

Book description:

Savannah “Van” Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke ever since she literally fell head over heels in front of him on the first day of college. Now, six years later, instead of standing across from him at the altar, Van is standing beside her best friend Janie as maid of honor, trying to mask her heartache and guilt as Janie marries the only man she’s ever loved. Before Van’s mother died, she told Van never to let Peter go, but as the couple exchanges vows, Van wonders if her fairy-tale ending will ever come true.

After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet. But the pocket-size puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak. Van is at the end of her rope…until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what.

Van affectionately names her dog Joe, and together they work to mend the pieces of Van’s shattered heart. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Joe’s vet is a rugged sweetheart with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Van is forced to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she’s ever wanted–proving that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it gets better.

Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay is a big-hearted, unforgettable debut that illuminates the boundlessness of love and marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice.

Ahhhhh tis so sweet to post the 52nd review! And in the nick of time too– I still have a couple of hours until the end of the year! I’m not a big New Year’s Eve person so I’m perfectly content to stay home, drink wine and play games with the fam/pseudo family that come over. Tonight nobody would talk to me until I finished my last book! haha I appreciate the support but I’m glad I can now have some wine and ring in the new year! 😉

Anyway, Stay is indeed a very endearing novel. I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t MORE about the dog (Joe) but more focused on the love triangle/drama surrounding Van’s love life. I was expecting more of a story about a girl and her dog. So I got more than I bargained for is all.

At times it felt silly and I don’t know how else to explain that other than the shallow comments/thoughts Van had. It was easy to think of her as still in high school or something, so a challenge to relate. Stay is also extremely predictable and I found myself hoping for a twist or turn that would keep me shocked and surprised. Not every novel will wow, but this one was a cute one to end the year with.

Larkin does a good job of tying everything together but I just wish Stay was more about the dog instead of the boys. Van gets her dog for companionship (granted, it’s a mistaken order) but then she comes to value her pet yet somehow the bonding seems skipped. I guess I think the book jacket was slightly misleading in what the novel would offer. But I’m a sucker for the love of dogs 🙂 All in all, this is a light-hearted read to be enjoyed!

3.5/5 stars

Fabookulous