Monday, April 22, 2019

TTT: First Ten Books I Reviewed

 TTT is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: first ten books reviewed (in any capacity). I still do more quick impressions on Goodreads than I do formal reviews on my blog, so I'm going to go with the first several reviews on GR and the first few on Falconer's Library.  (Also, I apologize for the wonky font switches. When I was copying and pasting it got all messed up, and even when I highlight all and adjust, it reverts to weird stuff on its own.) 

The first book I ever entered in Goodreads was way back in June of 2009. Its official title is The Pox Party, but it's known as Octavian Nothing book 1. 
My review:
The child protagonist is so isolated from the world that it takes awhile to figure out what era, what continent, and what the actual circumstances are.  I enjoyed that, so I won't spoil it by explaining it all here.  I'm also a sucker for novels made up of different points of view and types of "documents," and this one is mostly (fictional) biography with a series of letters from minor characters partway through, giving you a chance to see Octavian as others do.  I will be getting volume 2 on my next trip to the library.

It's in the young adult section, but other than the age of the protagonist, I'm not clear why that is.

Two notes: I never did pick up the second book (!), and I love that this book and author feature heavily in Gary D. Schmidt's Orbiting Jupiter

The Pox Party


Then I reviewed, later that same day, The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie. 

This one really is a young adult novel, and quite funny.  Again, I enjoyed it partly because it's written as a collection of notes, diary entries, transcripts of conversations, school documents, etc.  

Spoiler:  It was fun that the "murder" theory Bindy's friends enthusiastically pursue seems over-the-top and unlikely, but not only does it turn out to be true, but the poisoner is--gasp--the middle school teacher!

So cute that I didn't know how to hide spoilers. And at first I thought I was being weird about YA, but then I realized I'm comparing it to Octavian Nothing, which didn't feel very YA to me.

 The Murder of Bindy MacKenzie (Ashbury/Brookfield #3)


The next review is for a book I finished in November of 2008, but reviewed in June 2009. It was for Steven Pinker's Language Instinct

Pidgin languages are created as a lingua franca between people who speak different languages (as on slave plantations) or none (as when ASL was created for the deaf). These languages are imprecise, ungrammatical, rudimentary. But in the next generation, children who are raised only speaking the pidgin language create order, and the grammatical language they effortlessly develop becomes a creole language. The kids figure out how to indicate verb tense, noun cases (who did what to whom),etc., instinctively--hence the title.

Isn't that amazing? A perk of reading a scholarly book just for fun is that you can skip the boring parts, but this book really doesn't have many boring parts, just tidbits like the above.

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates the Gift of Language

I must have gone back and added a bunch of books I'd read long before joining Goodreads, because this next review is from a book I first read in about 1987.  The River Why by David James Duncan is one of the few books that I would have claimed as my favorite for a good chunk of my life, as I explain in the review. 

This is my favorite book. 

Okay, I read it when I was 18, and it's a coming of age story. If I discovered it today, it might not have the same impact. Also, as a native Oregonian, I loved recognizing my home in these pages. I'm a sucker for quotes, and Duncan gives us several with each chapter. It starts out with a lot of boisterous humor and becomes increasingly philosophical, perfect for a reader like myself who might be frightened off by too much philosophy right up front. And then there's the love story...

My copy of this book, bought in Annie Bloom's bookstore in Multnomah Village the summer after high school, is now held together with a rubber band. It's been to Vermont, to Japan, to Denmark, and to Latvia. (I didn't get to accompany it to Japan, but I understand it was read by several people while there.) There may be a good argument for Duncan's The Brothers K being a better book, but Gus and his friends and family will always have my heart. 

The River Why


The next few are all reference type material. We have Hiking the Columbia River Gorge, ("helpful appendices"), McNeil's Mount Hood: Wy'east-The Mountain Revisited (which I contributed 20% of the ratings and 100% of the reviews to), The Anne Lovejoy Book of Northwest Gardening ("If only I had a spare blender, I would try adding more moss... to my lawn by blending buttermilk and moss into a 'thick slurry' and pouring that on all the bare spots.") Beyond Culture, and Seven Wonders: Everyday Things for a Healthier Planet (recommended by "my eco pal, Amy.")

Seven Wonders: Everyday Things for a Healthier Planet


I must have spent all day that June 25, 2008, thinking about books and writing little reviews for ones I'd loved. There's Middlesex, Winterdance, City of Darkness, City of Light, Emma, Hard Times, and Far From the Madding Crowd

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod

The next review for a book I'd actually read right before entering. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was a book club book, back when I was in a book club. I reviewed it in August of 2009.
I loved this book, but I'm going to register my complaints anyway--the first minor, the second more weighty.
1.  Most of the book is written in a psuedo-biographical form, complete with footnotes and explanations of what later happened to both people and objects. Yet we get to read Joe's mother's last letter, which he then loses, and Rosa's letters to Joe after he leaves, which he then burns.  How would the fictitious researcher get ahold of them?  But since it's really a novel, I can overlook this.
2.  This one didn't bother me until after I finished the book.  For 12 years, Sammy and Tommy have a father/son relationship despite Sam not having fathered the boy.  Then Joe shows up, Sam leaves, and both he and Tommy are okay with that.  This is a slap in the face to all adopted families.  Joe is Tommy's biological father, not his "real" father--the real father is the guy who raised him.  Of course, it helps that Sam and Rosa's marriage was a facade--but even that is not entirely true.  

Quibbles aside, it was an amazing adventure indeed.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

I was on Goodreads a good long time before I started blogging in summer of 2015. My first review was, yes, a review of a beloved childhood favorite, not something new or recently read. I wrote a joint review of Kate Seredy's duology: The Good Master and The Singing Tree.

  Kate and Jansci's story has stayed with me for a very long time.  I hope some of you will also vicariously gallop across the puszta with Kate's shrill whistle ringing in your ears.

9. On July 11, 2015 I wrote my first current review on the blog, for the novel in verse Inside Out and Back Again. I wrote that I had read it because I wanted to be better able to "sell" it to my students. I currently have a group of four girls reading it together, so that makes me feel successful! 

Inside Out & Back Again

Then on July 15th, 2015, I reviewed The Scorpio Races, which I loved so much I had to gush about it. This basically set the stage for my reviewing life on the blog--I only write a review if I finish the book desperate to talk about it. 

Have you been in the mood for a movie, but not had anything in particular you want to see, so you just watch something that's available, and it blows you away

Or has a friend ever dragged you along to an event that you didn't really feel like going to, and you meet your future husband have an outstanding time? (The first one actually happened to me, but it might not be as widely applicable.)

Or, how about this:  Have you ever decided to read something that you kind of didn't think you'd enjoy, but enough people were talking about it that you figured you may as well, and it wound up being your favorite book you'd read all summer?  Because that's what happened to me over the past few days with The Scorpio Races.


  1. Seven Wonders looks really interesting to me- that seems like something I'd like. :)

  2. I reviewed a few books when I joined Goodreads in 2011, but I deleted them a few years later because they were so bad. I don’t even remember what I reviewed now!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  3. Thank you for leaving reviews of reference-type books. In my experience, there aren't as many of us who do that as there tend to be for other genres.

    My TTT.

  4. The Scorpio Races! How awesome that one of Maggie Stiefvater's books was one of your first reviews. I love it!

  5. I never really reviewed on GR until I did on the blog but I always rated the books. Those are mostly all new to me up there!

  6. Octavian Nothing does sound interesting.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.

  7. I love Inside Out and Back Again and The Scorpio Races! :)

  8. I was first thinking of approaching this topic literally - my first 10 reviews, which would be on GR, but like you, mine were mostly quick thoughts, and I didn't even leave impressions for every book.

  9. I started ten years ago, too. As I looked back on my old reviews I was quite embarrassed of them, though. Ha! My TTT list

  10. I went back and added old books on Goodreads too, but I'm not sure if I actually reviewed them or just gave them read dates as close as I could figure to when I'd read them.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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