Tag Archives: Jonathan Auxier

Reading the old year out…

31st December 2011

And I must say, I’m not at all sad to see the back end of 2011. It was a very tumultuous year, and I am very happy to be ringing in a new year this evening with a mini-readathon cooked up by two other bloggers (Becky and Tasha) and myself. There will be champagne, so in the infinite wisdom and singing voice of Bing Crosby, let’s start the new year right.

But. Before we get to that, I wanted to do a year end post. As of midnight on December 30, I have read 121 books. Of these, 46 were written by men and 75 written by women (wow!); 109 fiction and 12 nonfiction. This year I read 9 audiobooks, and considering I read none last year, that’s quite a jump. Also, just so you can see my habits, 42 of these books came from the publisher/author/publicist, but I bought 52 and checked out 26 from the library, a pretty decent statistic. Now down to brass tacks….

Least favorite books of the year: Let’s just get this one out of the way. I only really disliked two books this year, and if you’ve been around for a bit, you can probably guess the first one: The Magicians by Lev Grossman. The other I just finished this morning: Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron. I’ll put up a review next week with details. Suffice it to say, memoirs are tricky.

Best New-to-Me Series: Well, obviously I love the Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver books, but seeing as they were written in the last century, I won’t call them new. If you’re looking for a vintage mystery, give these a go. Also consider joining me for Miss Silver Saturdays through 2012.

Best New Series: I just finished Discovery of Witches and am pretty much in love with it. I can’t wait for the next one. Many compare it to Twilight, but for me, it was much more reminiscent of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I loved it!

Funniest Book: Hands down, Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. In fact, this is a book that I plan to re-read soon, I liked it that much. Definitely keep an eye out for debut author Matt Norman.

Best Dark Comedy: Funny Man by John Warner. I’m really surprised this book hasn’t gotten more attention, as I think it’s pretty genius in a lot of ways. I’m really eager to see what else Warner writes.

Book that Made Me Think Rainbow Rowell stole my life and wrote about it: Attachments. Runner up for funniest book of the year, it was just so perfectly me. Sadly, many other bloggers have said the same thing, so obviously I ain’t anything special. Distinctive? Pshaw.

Book That Seriously Creeped Me Out and Blew My Mind: The Magus by John Fowles. Review next week, and boy howdy, what a book. Thanks so much to Sean at Read Heavily for the gift.

Best Middle Grade Book: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier. Absolute fun and super smart. Reminds me of books written when I was young.

Book that Made Me Cry: Thankfully there were only two of these this year (one sparked this post about crying in reading). The other is A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead. This is nonfiction and about the women of the French Resistance. It’s incredibly moving to see just how much the human spirit can endure.

Most Beautiful Book: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock. This is physically just a beautiful, beautiful specimen of a book. The cover art, the inside art, the paper. It’s technically the biography of a woman artist, but it’s so much more than that.

Biggest Surprise: Ian Fleming’s Bond series. Yes, he can be a misogynistic, slightly-racist ass, but damn, these books are good. If you think you know Bond from the films, think again and join Lit Housewife’s Shaken Not Stirred challenge. You won’t be disappointed.

~and last but not least~

Best Book of 2011: Galore by Michael Crummey. I read this book in April, but it will not leave me. The story is timeless, the writing superb. If you haven’t read it, make sure you add it to your list for the new year. I compare it to East of Eden by Steinbeck and House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. One of my favorite passages from the book is below:

~Watching Judah emerge from the whale’s guts, King-me felt the widow was birthing everything he despised in the country, laying it out before him like a taunt. Irish nor English, Jerseyman nor bushborn nor savage, not Roman or Episcopalian or apostate, Judah was the wilderness on two legs, mute and unknowable, a blankness that could drown a man.

So that’s my list. I wish you all the best in 2012 and hope to see you back here. Thank you all for reading, commenting, emailing, etc. I so enjoy your company.

And on that note, what was your favorite book this year?

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

5th September 2011

Transcript: This is the story of Peter Nimble. A small, blind, friendless orphan who also happens to be the greatest thief who ever lived. One day Peter steals a mysterious treasure that sets him on a journey beyond farthest seas, across endless deserts to a lost kingdom in need of a hero, in an adventure that can only be called … fantastic.

I normally am not a huge fan of book trailers, but this one is just about perfect and so descriptive. This book popped up on my radar after I saw a great review on The Book Smugglers blog, and I was intrigued. I don’t usually read a lot of middle grade, but my curiosity was piqued by this line in the book:

There is an old saying about how easy it is to ‘take candy from a baby.’ This saying is utterly false; anyone who has tried to take anything from a baby knows well what sort of crying, kicking, and general commotion will ensue. It is very easy, however, for babies to take things from us.

And Peter does steal, first to survive and then because he is under the control of a greedy crook, which of course, the humorous narrator (reminiscent of Rocky & Bullwinkle narrator Mr. Know-It-All) explains to us all the while. Once Peter embarks on his quest to find the Vanished Kingdom with Sir Tode, the cursed half-cat, half-horse, the true adventure begins, and I have to say, I was on board the whole way.

*Slight spoiler (but nothing you probably couldn’t guess)*

I knew, as soon as I saw the premise, that there would be a possibility Peter would get his sight back. I mean, this is a fairy tale, after all. However, I had a big problem with that. I love the idea that Peter is the best thief in the world and that he does it all sightless. BUT – you guys know I love my huge “but” – there is still a sacrifice that I won’t give away. Suffice it to say, in my mind, it still worked. Peter isn’t magically 100% “whole,” for lack of a better word.

*End Spoiler*

This is the type of book that instantly brings me back to the great stories of my youth. In the summertime, my mom and dad would read stories chapter by chapter to my brother, sister, and I. Peter Nimble would have fit right in with his fantastic eyes. Plus, the book is just as fun as an adult. The bad guys aren’t dealt with nicely, but the violence is tempered with lessons and irony. Plus, it’s just so darn fun. I loved Peter and Sir Tode. I really loved the narrator. It was funny and sweet and smart and tense. What more can you ask for in a book?

Read this: and suspend all disbelief for a few hours. Feel like a kid again. Or read it to a kid. Even better. 😉

P.S. I got this book from the publisher through NetGalley. You can order this book from Indiebound. Thanks to the publisher Abrams and the imprint Amulet Books.