Sunday, February 12, 2012

Best Books of 2011

A bit late but my life has been beyond hectic. Between my work life taking over my entire life, my immune system finally catching up and punishing me with three weeks of being sick in December, and then getting eye surgery in January - I haven't had much time to even remember I had a blog, let alone update it.

But I did read in 2011. I didn't reach 100, but I tried.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
This is a family saga, a mystery, and a tragic fairy tale all in one. After her grandmother's death, Cassandra learns the family secret... her grandmother was found abandoned as a little girl on a dock in Australia. Rather than being taken to the authorities, the dockmaster and his wife who found her decide to keep her as their own daughter.

"We're all unique, just never in the ways we imagine."

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
In 1899, a girl on the cusp of adulthood rebels against her mother's expectations, instead aspiring to be a naturalist like her grandfather.

“One day I would have all the books in the world, shelves and shelves of them. I would live my life in a tower of books. I would read all day long and eat peaches. And if any young knights in armor dared to come calling on their white chargers and plead with me to let down my hair, I would pelt them with peach pits until they went home.”

Hester: The Missing Years of The Scarlet Letter by Paula Reed
At the end of The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne and her daughter Pearl leave the colonies. Many years later, Hester returns by herself. Reed explores what may have happened to Hester and Pearl during that time. Hester's unique sight from her time wearing the red A on her chest gives her entree into the inner circle of Oliver Cromwell, and she finds herself embroiled in politics and intrigue.

“There are many more layers to innocence than one might ever imagine, and we are ever unaware of them until each barrier is breached.”

Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler by Jessica Speart
This is all true -- the story is so outlandish, the characters so completely unbelievable that it is impossible that the story is anything but. This is the story of Ed Newcomer, US FWS agent, and his quest to bring down Yoshi Kojima, the world's "butterfly kingpin".

"According to Interpol, the illegal worldwide animal trade rakes in a cool ten to fifteen billion dollars a year, and in the world of butterflies, Kojima had established himself as the kingpin."

Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn
This is a straight-up fantasy set in a near future dystopia police state. It merges Greek mythology, folktales and fairytales, King Arthur, global political struggle, and the most awesome little storeroom in the world into one intricate story. Evie returns home to look after her sick father, only to discover that he has one hell of a family secret, and a legacy to pass onto her.

"He sounded like a mystic sage. A wizard, not her father. Another character from a story, and she couldn't turn the page to see what happens next."

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebeca Skloot
This is the story of a woman, Henrietta Lacks, who died of cancer in 1951 but whose cells live on to this day. Her doctor took her cancer cells and used them to create the immortal cells which are the basis of modern medicine. This is also the story of Lacks' descendants, who were never told of their mother's unwilling contribution of science, and who never saw any money from the billions her cells made for the medical industry.

“But I tell you one thing, I don't want to be immortal if it mean living forever, cause then everybody else just die and get old in front of you while you stay the same, and that's just sad.”

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