Sarah Steinhoff
a member of the network

There's no way I could possibly list all the books I've read, so I started with the last book I read before I began designing this site (September 2002). The most recent book is at the top.

November 2003

I had only vaguely heard of Seabiscuit before I saw the movie previews, but I was immediately sucked in. Hey, I'm a chick and it's a story about a horse. What can I say? I haven't seen the movie yet, but the book by Lauren Hillenbrand was excellent. It's a straight-out history of Seabiscuit and the people around him but it's full of passion and character. It's a great story, and a good book.

July - October 2003

I really slacked off on updating this web site and now I can't remember what I've read and when. The following books I know I read sometime between July and October. In as close to chronological order as possible, here they are.

Denise gave me I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb for my birthday. For two weeks, I could not stop singing that song by Spandau Ballet. And now it's stuck in my head again. Anyway, I really enjoyed the book. Wally Lamb has a talent for writing about some seriously damaged people and for making you care so much about his characters. I thought the end tied everything up a tad too neatly, but it was still a good book.

I reread Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. The first time I read it, I had never been to Denmark. I read it this time with first-hand knowledge of Copenhagen and the people of Denmark. I enjoyed it just as much. It's a wonderful book. Smilla is such a strong, original character. I was again disappointed a little in the ending. It faded off. I prefer strong resolution. But it didn't ruin it for me.

I reread Amy Tan's The Kitchen God's Wife. It was just as good the second, or was that the third, time around. I've enjoyed every book I've read by Amy Tan. Good stuff.

I was delighted to see that Tracy Chevalier had another book out, The Virgin Blue. I had really enjoyed Girl with a Pearl Earring, and I was not disappointed. While at times I did not sympathize with the heroine, I was still totally drawn in to the story, particularly the flashbacks. In fact, I would have been happy if the whole story had dealt with just the flashbacks.

I picked up Getting Over It by Anna Maxted while Matt and I were in Cape Girardeau, MO. I had read about it in Book magazine. It was pretty good. It reminded me a little of Bridget Jones, just in that British chick dealing with life sorta way. But it was definitely more serious than Bridget Jones and it didn't obsess over Colin Firth quite as much. (mmmm . . . Colin . . .) Anyway, I'd give it two thumbs up. I'm planning on reading more of her stuff.

Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution, by Dr. Robert C. Atkins, was good in the sense that it reinforced my decision to go on the Atkins diet. It gave me some more detailed information than I was able to get at the web site. But his tone throughout the book was so freaking annoying! It was condescending and cloying. I had a hard time pushing through it. In fact, I started skipping around because I couldn't bear to read it straight through. I probably ended up skipping some parts. Oh well! Thanks go out to Erynn for lending it to me.

June 2003

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling, was another excellent installment in the Harry Potter saga. Matt was disappointed in what a brat Harry was, but I was okay with it. Harry's a teenager! Teenagers are brats! He has never been a super wonderful golden boy. I think Ms. Rowling was following the true character of Harry. And I'm ready for Ron and Hermione to get it on. You know it's going to happen.

To celebrate the release of the newest Harry Potter book, I reread the first four: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I have a horrible memory for details in the books I read. That makes it much easier to reread them and still enjoy them. But I find that I have to reread an entire series just to read the latest installment. It's why I've read Dune about a zillion times.

May 2003

Criminy! Another month with only one book read! I spent most of this month reading magazines and newspapers instead. I need to get back on the book wagon!

The Tentmaker, by Clay Reynolds, was delivered into my hands by my father-in-law Ken. He gives me so many books, I simply cannot read them all (although my book log in the last few months doesn't support that). This one I read. It was better than average. Some of it was way too repetitive. Okay, okay, we get that he's inherently lazy and conflicted over the red-headed chick! Enough already! If it had been edited a bit more, it would have been better. But still, it was pretty good.

April 2003

I haven't been reading as many books lately. I've been mostly reading newspapers, specifically The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Of course, I've been reading the Orlando Sentinel, too.

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith, was very entertaining. It takes place in Africa which isn't a typical setting for books I read. That added a little extra interest for me. Also, I really enjoyed how the book was structured, with smaller cases interspersed along a larger case. I really enjoyed the writing style and would definitely read more books by the author.

March 2003

The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson, was a vaguely disturbing collection of short stories. The jacket cover said it was "macabre and terrifying." Maybe it was when it was originally published, but after Stephen King and Clive Barker, I just found it vaguely disturbing. Not that there is anything wrong with that! It was still interesting. I knew the plot of the short story "The Lottery" but all the other stories were unknown to me. I rather liked the book.

A False Sense of Well Being, by Jeanne Braselton was loaned to me by Ann Marie. The book started off well, but then it took a nosedive. About a third of the way into the book, it seemed like the author just kinda lost direction. There was no more forward movement. It just dropped off and became a total snooze fest. I had to force myself to finish it. I'm definitely not recommending this one.

February 2003

High Tide in Tucson, by Barbara Kingsolver, was an unintended read. I had packed books for my vacation, then found myself uninterested in them. This book was in the condo we were staying at, so I read as much of it as I could. I enjoyed the book to a point, but Barbara is dreaming when it comes to "mixed families." She has really romanticized the notion of step-families and how having even more people to love a child can't be bad. Yeah, that's true, when they love the child. But what happens when the step-parents and step-siblings don't love that child? Or when the biological parents hate each other and use the child as a pawn in their war? Then it's sheer hell.

Lucky: A Memoir, by Alice Sebold, was a very compelling and very scary book. The detail she went into was powerful. If you can stomach reading a true account of a rape and the aftermath, this was an excellent book.

Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut, was another gift from Jennifer. This one was a collection of short stories, so it really covered all the different genres Vonnegut writes in. There was science fiction, war memorials, etc. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I think I'm getting overdosed on Vonnegut. I'm gonna take a break for a bit from his work.

Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier was a wonderful book. She put such a rich story in that painting. I read it in one day. It helped that I had a lot of time to read, but I really could not put it down. It reminded me a great deal of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister since it took place in Holland in the 17th century and dealt with painting. That was also an excellent book.

January 2003

Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut was given to me by Jennifer for Christmas. She actually gave me three of his books. This is the first out of the three I have read. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of the books I have read by Vonnegut. This one was great, and I think a bit more accessible than some of his other work. At least, there weren't any space aliens in it.

Stations West, by Allison Amend was another One Story short story. I really enjoyed this one. It had good details. I could really picture the surroundings, especially the trains and the lonely cabin in Oklahoma.

An Affair to Dismember, by Binyavanga Wainaina was a short story given to me to read by my dear friend Denise. I like the whole One Story idea, but this particular story didn't flip my skirt. I found it hard to follow what was going on. Good thing it was short.

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, by Milan Kundera is the second book by him that I have read. The other one was The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book at first. It's a series of stories that all revolve around similar themes, laughter and forgetting surprisingly enough! But by the last story, I was getting bored. In fact, I put the book down for about 2 weeks and read a lot of newspapers instead. Hence the small number of books for January. Anyway, I still overall enjoyed it and would read more of his work.

The Defiant Heart, by Anita Gordon, is a trashy romance novel. This one takes place in the early tenth century. I've read this one a number of times before. This time, the language in it bothered me more than usual. The author's word choice was odd. For instance, if the hero looked across a room to check out what was going on, he "compassed the room with a glance" or something bizarre like that. Also, there was a whole lot of "souls melting together in one penetrating glance," etc., etc. Still, it's better than a lot of trashy romance novels out there.

December 2002

Hard Eight, by Janet Evanovich was the latest in the Stephanie Plum series. It was just as good as the other books. And Stephanie finally got it on with Ranger. Yay! But her little CR-V was blown up. Oh, well. The whole Stephanie Plum series is a lot of fun. They are quick and interesting reads, and very funny!

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, was a book I bought for my niece Courtney but insisted on reading first. One of my favorite books of all time is A Little Princess by the same author, but I had never read The Secret Garden. I enjoyed the book very much, but it won't replace A Little Princess in my heart. There were some similarities, with both little girls growing up in India, but totally different personalities. The basic plot of A Little Princess is a little girl withstands a cruel world, and even transforms it, simply because she is a wonderful, caring child. In The Secret Garden, a bad little girl is made better by rough circumstances and, in turn, improves her world. I hope my niece enjoys the book.

Surrender My Love, by Johanna Lindsey, was another trashy romance. I'm in a rut. I have all these magazines to read and instead, I'm re-reading trashy romances. Oh, well. This one was okay. It's the third in a trilogy. Lindsey is all about the various members of a family each getting a book. This was probably the weakest of the three, but I hadn't read it more than twice, so I gave it a go.

November 2002

Say You Love Me, by Johanna Lindsey, is a trashy historical romance novel that I've read a couple of times before. When I get in the mood to read trashy romances, I just go dig around in my box of them and start re-reading. Anyway, this was book 5 in a series about the Malory family. That series started out well, but I was about tired of all the bickering that went on by the time the series was over. Sheesh.

Come Up and See Me Sometime, by Erika Krouse, started slowly. In fact, I was two stories in and I thought, "Man, this sucks." And then I got three stories in and changed my mind. The stories got progressively better and I ended up liking the book. Maybe I just had to get used to her style. Also, I thought the Mae West quotes at the beginning of each story were a tad hoaky. All in all, it was entertaining. If someone offers to loan you the book, go ahead and take it.

Slightly Shady, by Amanda Quick, is a trashy romance novel. Yes, yes, I read trashy romance novels. I prefer historical romances, and Amanda Quick is one of my favorite romances authors. I have almost all of her books. This one was a little different. It didn't stick to the typical historical romance plot. First of all, the heroine was not a virgin (gasp!), she didn't need a lot of rescuing, and there were virtually no physical descriptions of the main characters. In fact, I was surprised to find out mid-way through the book that the heroine was a redhead. It was basically a historical mystery with a little romance thrown in. Quick's books have always had a mystery-type bent. This one took a bigger stride in that direction. All in all, I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't say it was one of my favorites by her. Scandal is my favorite.

Naked, by David Sedaris, was another book I borrowed from Denise. This one was just as good as Holidays on Ice. I really like short story collections. This guy's going on my list of favorite short story writers. (The other name on that list is T. Coraghessan Boyle.) You'll probably see more books by Sedaris pop up on my reading log in the future. I enthusiastically recommend his work.

October 2002

Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris, was loaned to me by Denise - a.k.a. The High Priestess of the Velvet Pillow and Blanket. (You rock, Denise!) I gave this book to her for Christmas. She had registered for a number of Sedaris books on her wish list. Anyway, I finally got around to borrowing it from her and it was great! I really like the way this guy writes. I'm definitely reading more of his work and I would highly recommend it to anyone! This one is good to start off the holiday season.

Black-Eyed Suzie, by Susan Shaw, is a young adult's book so it took me all of about 2 hours to read. I got it from my father-in-law Ken, who is a total book-pusher. I read it because I thought my 8-year-old niece Courtney might like it. I enjoy reading young adult literature and this was a compelling story. I'm not sure if I'll give it to my niece just yet. The subject matter is pretty disturbing - child ends up in a mental institution as a result of being abused by her mother and the story traces her path of recovery. The book's lesson is that problems should be talked about - silence is damaging. This might be a good lesson for Courtney, because her parents are going through a rough divorce. Maybe this would spur her to talk more about what she's going through. I'll have to think about it.

All Families are Pyschotic, by Douglas Coupland, was a highly entertaining book. The only other thing I had read by Coupland was Microserfs. That's one of Matt's favorite books, so when I saw this new book by Coupland, Matt bought it and read it right away. I really enjoyed it. Some of the crazy Florida stuff reminded me of Tim Dorsey's books, which I understand are similar to Carl Hiassen's work although I've never read anything by him. I'll have to start looking for more books by Douglas Coupland.

Princess, A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia, by Jean Sasson, was loaned to me by Fran, my most stylish friend and a co-worker. (Turns out she borrowed it from Ann Marie.) It was . . . interesting. Some of the things she writes about were horrifying. Other times, I was disappointed in the heroine's childish reactions to events in her life. But I suppose growing up in the society she describes doesn't typically instill the most rational and calm thought processes in a person. It was worth the read, but I won't be reading the sequels.

Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner, was loaned to me by my good friend and boss, Ann Marie. Overall, I'm gonna say I enjoyed it. I admit that when I got close to the end, I was compelled to stay up late to finish it. The main character, Cannie, had an amusing sense of humor and there were some cute plot developments and such. Some of the extremes her character went through struck me as a bit odd. In fact, she seemed to have a total character change near the end, but she recovers nicely. I thought the ending wrapped things up just a little too nicely (it's okay to have a dangling thread or two) but all in all, I was pleased. I'd recommend this to friends.

The Life of Elizabeth I, by Alison Weir, was loaned to me by my sister Dani quite some time ago. Actually, I gave it to her as a gift knowing full well she'd loan it to me when she was done. This was an excellent book. I'm not a major history buff, but I always enjoy Weir's work. Anyone who is interested in the history of the English monarchy, or just fascinated by Elizabeth I should read this book. It rocked!

September 2002

The Persia Cafe, by Melany Neilson, was recommended by my father-in-law. He's always handing me books. I didn't find it particularly scintillating. It drug along and didn't have any big pay off in the end. The author sort of hinted early on about some great psychological wounding of the heroine and I never saw that come to fruition. I would not recommend this book.


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