Happy New Year! Hope you had fun celebrating the exit of 2011 however you choose to mark the end of the year! My New Year's was pretty low key after being out and partying a little too much on the 29th and 30th but I am very happy to be ushering in a new year. After dealing with some health issues this year, I am looking forward to 2012 and committed to making the most of the year! On the reading/blogging front, this was a tough year for me. My stats show I posted 50% as often this year compared to 2010. Constant fatigue meant I wasn't often up to posting in the evening; to be honest, I was having a tough time doing the basics like getting to work so blogging had to take a back seat. I am excited to be feeling better and hope it translates into more regular posting here.
Along with the slow-down on the blog, I always struggled with some challenges. Again, the energy issue meant I read whatever was easy and accessible so I didn't get to as many challenge books as I hoped. I am signing up for many of the same challenges as in 2010 to give myself another shot at them!
I am also hosting the Immigrant Stories Challenge again this year - if you are still considering challenges, I hope you will join in! You can check out the 2011 Review Link-Up page to see what last year's participants read for the challenge.
Top 11 in 2011
Despite a slow year in blogging, I did read some excellent books this year and I have assembled my top 11 for 2011. Click on the titles in the blurbs for links to my reviews.
First up, Immigrant Stories:
When We Were Strangers: This book chronicles the emigration of Irma Vitale from Opi, Italy to the United States and we see her struggle to fit in within her new country and to forge a life of her own.
Ellis Island: Ellie Hogan leaves Ireland and her love behind to try to earn some money in America. Despite her longing for home and her fiance, she finds success in the US and discovers how much she enjoys her independence. When she returns to Ireland, she is faced with the age old Immigrant dilemma of not fitting in there almost as much as she did not fit into America.
Where's My Wand? The title of this one still cracks me up and I think it makes a great mantra! The memoir is a coming of age story of a young boy who relies on "magic" to spirit him away when the going gets rough at home or school. His story is honest and endearing.
Devotion This memoir about the author's attempt to find the real meaning in life a belief system with truths that resonate for her. The writing is absolutely beautiful and this book spoke to me throughout - my copy is completely marked up with notes and I bought copies for many of my friends.
Bossypants (review TBD): Not surprisingly, Tina Fey's memoir is laugh out loud funny. I listened to this one in audio and her delivery of her own lines was spot on and really added to the experience.
Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt: An utterly charming Southern novel. Cee Cee will find her way into heart - I know she did mine!
The Kitchen Daughter: Ginny Selvaggio has just lost both her parents and for the first time she is facing life without their assistance and protection. She has an unusual connection to food and cooking - it provides her comfort and she works through her grief and uncertainty by calling upon her tried and true recipes.
The Secret Daughter : The characters in this book stay with me still. It tells the story of two families - one in India and one in the US and the daughter that, unbeknown to both of them, unites the families.
You Know When the Men Are Gone: This book made me think differently about the sacrifices made by the military and, most of all, by their families. It is a collection of short stories which are linked and each tells the story of a member of the military or their families and the effect of war on the homefront for these families.
Faith : Possibly my favorite book of the year. Check out my review and you will see why.
Dance Lessons : This beautiful novel set in the rugged West of Ireland demonstrates the effects unhappiness and regret can have on entire family when one generation perpetrates their hurt on the next generation.
It certainly was a great year in books and I look forward to much more excellent reads in 2012! Happy New Year to you and yours!