69. The Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Set in Victorian England, this story is told from the alternating perspectives of Susan an orphan raised in a den of thieves, and Maud a country heiress. In a grand scheme created by a man known as the Gentleman, Susan is enlisted to act as Maud’s maid in order to entice her into marrying the Gentleman, who then intends to abscond with her inheritance. There are a number of twists and turns in this story that I didn’t see coming which I enjoyed. Waters also does an excellent job of setting the scene, but I felt the story really dragged at parts. The book is kind of broken up into 4 parts with parts one and two telling the same story first from the perspective of Susan and then from the perspective of Maud. I felt like Waters could really have moved through Maud’s story much quicker since we already knew everything that happened. As the book is over 500 pages long I think editing that down would have made the story much tighter and more engaging. I give it a 6 out of 10.
68. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin
This is the fictionalized account of the life of Lavinia Warren, the wife of General Tom Thumb. Benjamin imagines what Lavinia Warren’s life was really like. The story is based on true facts, so as far as the actual events that happened to her I learned a lot because I didn’t really know anything about her. However, I felt like the book dragged and that I just wasn’t that interested in what was happening. I give it a 6 out of 10.
67. A Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare by Jeremy Butterfield
I also won a free copy of this book at the American Library Association conference. It’s a look at the evolving nature of the English language. I found this book to be much more engaging than Alphabetter Juice because it had more of a narrative to it. It was actually rather interesting and a very quick read. I give it a 6 out of 10.
66. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
I recently reread this book in preparation for one of my book clubs. We discussed the book and then went to see the final movie together. I enjoyed rereading it and actually couldn’t remember how it ended, so I was engaged and trying to get through it to see how everything was finished. I think it was a satifactory ending to the series. I give it a 7 out of 10.
65. Alphabetter Juice: or the, Joy of Text by Roy Blount, Jr.
I won an autographed copy of this book at the American Library Association’s annual conference. In this follow-up to Alphabet Juice, Blount, Jr examines language through his own observations on words and phrases as well as research on their pronunciations and origins from a variety of sources. There was a lot of humor integrated into many of the entries, but as there is no narrative arc I found the book a little tedious to read. It’s kind of like trying to sit down and read the encyclopedia straight through. Lots of interesting information, but not necessarily the easiest thing to do. I give it a 5 out of 10.
64. Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon
I didn’t like this book nearly as much as McMahon’s newest book Don’t Breathe a Word, which I absolutely loved, but it’s still a good read. The story centers around Kate, who has returned to the small town she grew up in to help deal with her mother who is succumbing to Alzheimer’s. Right before her return a teenage girl is murdered in a manner eerily similar to the murder of Kate’s childhood friend Del. Del was an outcast who Kate was only friends with in secret and who all the kids mockingly called the Potato Girl. Now it seems her ghost may be back to finish the unfinished business of their childhood and her murder. Kate must figure out if it’s the ghost of the Potato Girl who committed the most recent murder to avenger her own death or is there something more sinister and human going on. I give it a 7 out of 10.