31. The Secret Garden—Frances Hodgson Burnett (audiobook)
Always a book that I enjoy. If you’ve not read it, you should. And see the Hallmark version of it. The book is such a vibrantly described story, and I really enjoyed it as an audiobook. You can let your hands work on the gardening or whatever, and immerse yourself in the story.
And, I know the story is mostly focused on Mary Lennox, but I love the part between Colin and Mr. Craven. And, of course, Mrs Sowerby, who knows exactly what everyone needs, and is sort of the “guardian angel”, helping everyone from behind the scenes.
Don’t fall for the nonsense that this is a book for kids. It is great for kids to read, and I think that all kids should read it (with the friendship between Mary, Colin, and Dickon, it is great for boys and girls). But I think that adults should read it too. I read it every year or two.
32. The Madonna of Notre Dame—Alexis Ragougneau
A dead woman is found in Notre Dame. And the book goes downhill from there.
The author of this book quite obviously has a pretty negative view of both law enforcement, and clergy. The story has very few redeeming qualities, and at the end, you sort of feel that you need to take a shower.
It was short enough that I did finish it, but had it been much longer, I’d have dropped it.
33. Hillbilly Elegy—J.D. Vance
A book about the hillbilly culture, and how it affects families even if they move away from their homes.
This was written by a man who grew up in the hillbilly way of life, but ended up joining the Marines, and graduating from Yale Law.
This is another one where I had some issues with the writing style. The author kept referring to his education and whatnot, but then used expletives repeatedly in the book. It seemed like it was something of an attempt to stay true to the roots he was talking about, instead of writing like a college graduate. It wasn’t in the course of conversation, it was just sort of thrown into the book wherever he felt like using it.
If you are interested in the hillbilly culture, the sort of “white trash” mentality, and how children and families are affected by it, this is actually a good book. I just didn’t see a need for the swearing
34. Rejected Princesses—Jason Porath
A collection of short (1-4 page) stories about strong women in history and legend, who aren’t quite clean enough to make it as Disney princesses.
The art work is pretty neat, and many of the panels have art notes, explaining the clothing, and small details of the picture that you may not have noticed otherwise.
I wasn’t a big fan of the writing style. There was too much “In this author’s opinion” stuck into the book for my tastes, but it probably appeals to other people. And it was originally a blog, so that may have something to do with the writing style.
Writing style aside, I thought the stories were interesting. Enough information to make you curious if you want to google the person, but short enough that they were able to fit a lot of women into the book.
35. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince—J.K. Rowling (audiobook)
Or…Harry Potter and the Book Where He Was Really a Freaking Idiot.
Don’t use someone else’s spells when you don’t know who that person is, for goodness’ sake.
Don’t use spells marked “for enemy” when you don’t know what they do.
It gets to the point where it’s hard to sympathize with Harry when he’s being an angsty teenager, and constantly making poor choices.
36. Escape to Witch Mountain—Alexander Key
This is a sad statement of what humanity is willing to do to those who are different. Hunting down children just because someone claims that they are witches, and not even having an interest in getting their side of the story.
But it also shows the good side of humanity, and that there are people who are willing to help the innocent, even at great personal cost.
37. Long Way Gone—Charles Martin
A “Prodigal Son” retelling, set in modern times.
I used to really enjoy christian fiction, but lately, not so much. It all tends to read like a Hallmark movie.
But this one doesn’t. It was actually pretty serious and harsh in some parts. But still with a redeeming message.
My Mom read this one, and suggested it to me. We both rather enjoyed it. And if you’re familiar with music, it will be even more interesting to you.
38. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—J.K. Rowling (audiobook)
The last book.
The most tragic book.
If you don’t know why it’s tragic, I won’t spoil it here. But I do have a blog started on it.
Like I said in the part about The Half-Blood Prince, I sort of got to the point where I didn’t care about Harry that much. But I liked some of the other characters even more, and cared abut what happened to them. And not all of their stories ended well.
39. Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them—J.K. Rowling (audiobook)
This audiobook was read by Eddie Redmayne, who played Newt Scamander in the movie of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The beginning of the book says that it was a collaboration between Pottermore, Newt Scamander, and the Ministry of Magic to raise funds for Comic Relief, a charity in the UK.
I sort of expected it to be the book version of the movie, but it was the book version of the Fantastic Beasts textbook. It was different than I expected, but still fun to listen to, as it described the various beasts, what makes a beast a beast, and has some amusing stories about the beasts.
40. Airs Above the Ground—Mary Stewart
Lipizzan horses, the circus, Austria, and mystery.
All the makings of a good book.
I was very intrigued by the circus and horse part of the book, and was a little disappointed when things switched over to a new mystery, and the horses sort of fell by the wayside.
Despite that, it was a good book, though it is hard to say too much about it. There are things you find out along the way, and if I mention details from the middle of the book, it will ruin the mystery of the beginning. I am definitely a fan of this author, after reading two of her books, and I certainly plan to read more.
And it was fun, after being in Austria last year, to be able to imagine the things she wrote about, and to know exactly where in Vienna the characters were.