Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sunday Salon: Hello 2012!

The Sunday

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!


  1. Happy New Year! Good luck on this year's challenges. I'm wussing out and not signing up for any this year.

  2. I had some of the same books on my best of list. Here's to a wonderful 2012!

  3. I'm glad you're feeling better!

    I still need to read Ellis Island!

  4. Happy New Year! Definitely glad to know you're more energy filled these days. Good luck with the reading. I'm going to wait a bit before joining any challenges this year, but I love the idea behind yours.

  5. Hope 2012 has you enjoying renewed health Colleen. Happy New Year.

  6. I loved Bossypants too and have heard so many good things about The Kitchen Daughter. I'm glad your energy is returning and good luck with all your challenges! Happy New Year! :-) <3

  7. Colleen, I am so glad that you are feeling better. Happy New Year and I hope that 2012 will be a fresh start for you in so many ways.

  8. I hope your 2012 is filled with good health, great friends, and wonderful books. I really want to read You Know When the Men are Gone this year. I adored CeeCee Honeycutt and I enjoyed Faith so much more than I expected to. Haigh is an amazing writer.

  9. I like the idea of eleven in eleven! I have the feeling that had I read Bossy Pants, it would have been on my list too.

    Happy New Year!

  10. Happy New Year, Colleen! Hope 2012 will be a great year for you. I plan to read (or listen to) Faith and You Know When the Men are Gone this year.

  11. I just bought myself a copy of When We Were Strangers, so I'm very happy to see you thought so highly of it! I also love CeeCee Honeycutt, so glad to see it on your list. Happy New Year - I hope it is a year of wonderful things, both bookishly and health-wise. :)

  12. Ooh, some great sounding books to check out! Some of these were already on my lists.

    I hope 2012 finds you in good health and reading many great books!

  13. What a great list! We have a few books on the same list- Faith and Bossypants were some of my favorites, too- but I would also like to read Devotion, Secret Daughter and You Know When The Men Are Gone.
    Happy New Year to you, hope we can meet up at some point!

  14. So glad you're back and feeling better, Colleen. I'll be adding the Immigrant Stories challenge again, once I come up with some kind of reading list for it. Looking forward to your reviews on those titles, and many others in 2012!

  15. I think that sustained blogging requires a slowdown at some point. I found myself doing the same thing -- sometimes only posting 2 times a week. When I started out three years ago, I was posting almost every day and obsessed with it. Now it is more like a hobby that I do and don't allow to dominate my life!!!

    Great list of reads. I'll have to bookmark this and come back when I'm "out" of books to read.

  16. Happy New Year, Colleen!! What a great Best of list!

  17. Yay! I haveellis island sitting on my bookshelf. After seeingit make it to your beat of list I feel like I need to go out and read it now.

  18. Wow ... what a terrific surprise! I'm tickled and honored that my novel earned a place in your top 11 for 2011 list. Thank you so much for your many kindnesses and support. Oletta is waving hello from the kitchen!

    I hope 2012 is a wonderful and healthy year for you, Colleen ... Happy New Year!

  19. Faith was also one of my favorite books of 2011. Hope this year brings good health and renewed energy :)

  20. I liked Ellis Island, too. Such a clever idea to list your top 11 books for 2011.

    Glad you're joining in for Midnight's Children; I'm really looking forward to reading it together.

  21. The Secret Daughter was an incredible book. I was so glad I read it. It was sad and haunting.

  22. Glad to hear you're feeling better! Sounds like you did ring out the year on an up note! Hope we both have better years health-wise and find more time for reading, blogging and doing all of the other things we love to do!

  23. I've been so disappointed that I bought a hard copy of Bossypants instead of listening to the audio since I've heard such fabulous things. Just checked my library, though, and they have a copy so I might make it a listen/read.

    Been hearing SO much about You Know When the Men Are Gone. Glad it made your 11!

    Happy 2012 to you. I'm sure it will be a wonderful year!

  24. I loved Dance Lessons and I hope to read Ellis Island this year.