Whoa! I guess I totally missed the one year anniversary of this here blog. I wrote my first review about one year ago this week! I really can't believe I've managed to keep up with it for this long. Sure, I had some patches where I didn't post much, and every now and then, I totally forgot about it, but here I am, with 10 followers, which is 10 more than I had when I started. I've made some aesthetic changes and some content changes, and you know what, I'm happy with what I've created. I'm happy to be writing and reading and posting about what I love most.
Thank you to those of you who are reading this. My goal for this upcoming year is to get more involved in the blogging community. I'd like to find some more memes that I think really apply to this blog. I'd like to connect with more bloggers, get more reccomendations and feedback, and eventually, gain a bigger following. Let's hope that one year from today, I can say I achieved these things!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Name a book or author that you truly wanted to love but left you disappointed. (And, of course, explain why.)
A little while ago, I read The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. I don't know why I didn't review it. It's possible I read it before I had even started the blog. The timing is a little fuzzy. Anyhow, I expected it to be really good. The series is doing well in the Y/A Fantasy genre, but for me, it was a bust. I didn't necessarily dislike it, but I found myself struggling to finish it, get hooked on the story. I wasn't breezing through it like I expected to. I've put off buying the sequels because I just wasn't blown away by the first volume. However, it looks like the new ones may find their way into my TBR pile. I've heard good things about them, and, am willing to give the series another shot.
You can find Booking Through Thursday here!
Monday, June 28, 2010
Title: Out of the Silent Planet
Author: C.S. Lewis
I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis.
It's really just that simple. I love the books he wrote and I love the point of view he represented. He is one of the most recognized Christian authors and, to my mind, the most important. Lewis didn't just blindly write about faith. He didn't try to club people over the head with Christianity. He wasn't hateful towards members of other faiths, nor was he completely unquestioning of his own faith. Lewis used fantasy and science fiction to examine his faith, to experiment with the idea of God in magical worlds or in far off planets. I admire him greatly for his intelligent religious viewpoints. I believe that a lot of modern day Christians could really learn a thing or two from Lewis, because faith should constantly be reexamined and questioned if it's ever going to progress in the way that science has. Personally, I would do just about anything to see Lewis go head to head in a battle of words with the illustrious author and atheist, Phillip Pullman. Their respective fantasy series have essentially done the same thing: examined the concept of God in terms of multiple worlds, generated through fantasy naratives. Lewis projects Christian idealogies throughout his worlds, while Pullman smashes them.
Wow, definitely getting away from myself there, but the point is, I really admire Lewis and what he has to say, which is why I picked up Out of the Silent Planet. In terms of the message of the book, I was as happy as I've ever been with his work. The story definitely had a hidden Christian manifesto, similar to the Chronicles of Narnia series. However, I'm not sure if I really connected with the surface plot. I've never been that into retro science fiction, and this was certainly retro. I did enjoy seeing an author address the problem of language on other planets, and the questions of survival. Often, characters luck out in discovering that the natives eat the same things as we do here on Earth and they happen to speak the same language! Wow! Not in this book. Lewis did a great job depicting the linguistic difficulties that Dr. Ransom (the protagonist) might have suffered. But, like I said, the plot itself just wasn't exciting enough for me. The descriptions were beautiful, but they didn't make things move along very quickly.
Despite my disinterest with the plot, I will most likely pick up the sequels. They're great books to have in my arsenal, especially since I love Lewis so much.
Price: $14.00, paperback
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
I think, perhaps, I give out too many 5 star ratings. Maybe I need to think more closely about what deserves such a perfect rating. Many books that I give 5 stars do have their flaws. Does that mean they deserve 4 stars? I don't want to put anyone off reading a book because I gave it a less than perfect score...but what does perfect really mean?
I'm asking these questions because I find myself wanting to give The Magicians 6 stars, simply because it was really that good. Don't get me wrong, I loved the Percy Jackson books, and some of them really are perfectly crafted, but this book. Well, I just don't know where to begin. It was one of the best fantasy books I've ever read. Please don't worry, all you purists; I wouldn't put this ahead of Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, or even Harry Potter. However, as an adult fantasy novel, it was just incredible. I've never read something from the genre that I found so relatable. Perhaps it's the modern setting, perhaps it's the teen characters. I just connected with Quentin so easily and could not put the book down.
The Magicians begins in modern-day Brooklyn, with Quentin preparing for an Ivy League interview. As he makes his way home from the disastrous meeting, he finds himself in the gardens of prestigious school of magic, to which he is soon admitted. Quentin has been dreaming about magical worlds all his life and now he is one! Alas, the world of magic is not all he thought it would be, and soon Quentin learns that the trials he faced before magic are not so different from the one's he's faced with now. The book spans a 4-5 year period, in which Quentin goes to Brakebills school of magic and then enters the real world, culminating in a journey to the land of his favorite childhood books, Fillory. As I said, not everything in this new world is what Quentin expected, and the book chronicles not just his adventures, but also how he comes to terms with them.
I suppose The Magicians hit close to home because I too have always wished there was a world other than this one. No worries folks; I'm not about to go do anything crazy because I can't live in this world if there's no magic. I'm just saying I could relate to the idea that fantasy novels, though I love them and wouldn't have the same life without them, create a strange sense of hope for us loyalists. I go through my life thinking I'm just waiting for that something big to happen to me. If my experience of life turns out to be anything like Quentin's, maybe a big surprise won't make that much of a difference at all.
Price: $16.00, paperback
Friday, June 11, 2010
Title: The Red Pyramid
Author: Rick Riordan
Boy was I jonesing for some Rick Riordan this summer. I read all of the Percy Jackson books this time last year, and now, I've just developed this association with summer and Riordan's fast-passed, easy reads. When the weather gets warm, I want books I can breeze through, but who's stories I can really connnect to and reccomend to other readers. Well, Riordan does just that, so when I saw The Red Pyramid in my local Barnes and Noble (an establishment I should probably be banned from, considering my book-buying addiction), I just had to have it. And my goodness, it did not disappoint.
Pyramid is the first book in Riordan's new series, The Kane Chronicles, featuring brother and sister, Carter and Sadie Kane. Carter has grown up with their archealogist father, travelling the world, while Sadie staid in London with their grandparents, living a relatively normal life. When disaster strikes at the British Museum, Carter and Sadie are thrust together to save their father who disappeared at the museum. The story links Sadie and Carter to the traditions of ancient Egypt, and soon, they find themselves mixed up in an ages-old conflict between the gods and the magicians who keep them at bay.
It's clear that Riordan has a passion for the mythologies of the world, and he's continuing what he started with Percy Jackson's Greek heritage in the Egyptian siblings. He even gives a slight nod to Mount Olympus and the Empire State Building in this new book. He has a great ability to rejuvinate ancient stories for modern readers, and make classic myths come alive with lively young characters. I think he's doing something marvelous for his readership; introducing them to a deep literary history and, quite possibly, developing their interests in the history of our world. I'd like to think that after reading The Red Pyramid, kids might want to learn more about Egypt and would pursue more books on the topic. I know the book sparked my interest, and I can't wait (as usual) for the sequel.
Price: $17.99, hardcover
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
This was the very last book I bought in the UK, and let me just say that I am so glad I did. I'd had the Millenium Trilogy on my TBR list for a long, long time, but never got around to picking it up until my studies were done and I really had some downtime. I was totally shocked by the story of its author, Stieg Larsson, who died shortly after delivering the manuscripts for "The Millenium Trilogy" to his editor. Sadly, he never got to see the worldwide success that his books acquired.
The first of his novels, I must say, started out rather slow. It took three weeks to get through the first 200 pages, with other books in between. However, once all the back story had been fleshed out, and the mystery really started going, I had finished the book in 2 days. Larsson is clearly a master of suspense and intrigue.
The book follows three main plotlines. First and most prevelent is that of Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist who has just been convicted of libel. He thought he was publishing a revealing new expose on one of Sweden's most influential CEOs, but his information was quite wrong. Though it looks like his career is going completely downhill after the trial, he is soon hired by Henrik Vanger, a retired entrepeneur. Vanger is convinced that his favorite niece, Harriet, was murdered almost fifty years ago and wants Blomkvist to continue the long-dead investigation into her disappearance. Lastly, there is the story of Lisbeth Salander, a mysterious, troubled young woman living in Stockholm. She works for a private investigator's company and her skills are unmatched. When Lisbeth joins Blomkvist on the case to find Harriet, they discover the shocking truth behind her disappearance.
Like I said, the plot didn't really thicken until about 200 pages in, but when it did, boy did things get good. Larsson clearly has a great gift for story-telling, and his knowledge of the financial stories that Blomkvist was investigating was really incredible. It felt like you were reading a true account, a story of fact, instead of a fiction. Where other crime books glaze over some of the more tricky plot areas, this novel convered all the bases and was truly inspired. I really can't wait to pick up the next one!
Price: $14.95, paperback
Title: Dead in the Family
Author: Charlaine Harris
I cannot even begin to express how long awaited the release of Dead in the Family was for me. Since I finished Dead and Gone, I have been counting down the days until the next Sookie Stackhouse book (not to mention Season 3 of True Blood, the television counterpart!).
This time around, I just couldn't give it full marks and it's for the same reasons as before. Harris seems to write these books in a pattern. She'll put out one, incredible, cliff-hanger of a novel that I have to give five stars, and next time, she'l put out a book that is great, but not quite as suspenseful. I feel like Dead in the Family was one of those not-quite-so suspenseful novels.
Sookie begins this book in what seems to be a healthy relationship with the vampire Eric. They are seeing each other regularly and really respecting each other. It seems like maybe Sookie's life as come back to normal. Even though it's taken many months for her to fully recover (emotionally and physically) from the bloodbath of the Faery War, she is finally happy. It's short-lived, however, because Eric receives surprising visitors: his maker and a new brother. They occupy all of Eric's time and become a huge liability to his thriving business in Shreveport.
It isn't surprising that the climax of the novel involves a final confrontation between Eric's controversial family and Sookie and her allies. I just found the ending somewhat predictable considering the story arch. I really enjoy these books so much more when there's a shocker at the end. If Harris follows the trend, however, it looks like the next one will have me on the edge of my seat once again!
Price: $25.99, hardcover
Title: Twisted Wing
Author: Ruth Newman
I picked up this British paperback while in the UK and had it on my shelf for almost two months. I guess I just got caught up in homework and travelling, and never got around to reading it until the weekend before finals (good idea? probably not). What appeared to be just another crime novel at Waterstone's turned out to be one of the fastest reads I've ever encountered. I read the book in 24 hours, which is not necessarily a huge feat for me, but that usually happens when I'm reading Harry Potter, Twilight or some other anxiously awaited title. This was completely unexpected!
Twisted Wing takes place, for the most part, at Ariel College at Cambridge University in England. Ariel college is small and it's students share a close bond, which is why when one of their own turns up brutaly murdered, no one seems to know who is behind the heinous crime. After a year of mourning with no leads turning up, another student is murdered, and finally, at their graduation ball, a third student is killed, but this time, there are students at the scene. The book starts off at the third and final murder and gradually fills in the back story of the "Cambridge Butcher" and the students who were his/her victims.
What begins as a crime drama turns into a psychological thriller, with the investigators, the students and the readers completely unable to discern who or what is behind the killings.
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone, even people who weren't previously interested in crime books. I was really hooked by the story and the complexity of the characters. The novel's only pitfall is its slightly unsophisticated writing style, but for a debut novel from Newman, I was truly impressed. The book is only available in kindle version in the US, unless you buy used (womp womp).
Price: £6.99, paperback
Friday, April 16, 2010
Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Oh man. It's been way, way too long since I blogged. I've gotten quite a few new books under my belt since March, and I feel so lazy to have waited until now to update. Here goes nothing! Expect a crazy outpouring of posts.
I read The Lovely Bones after having seen the recent movie adaptation, directed by Peter Jackson. This isn't (obviously) the best way to go about these two pieces of media; I would've preferred to read the book first. But, since the opportunity to see the movie sort of sprang up on me, I went ahead and watched it before reading Alice Sebold' bestseller. I have to take a quick sec to address the movie because, for me, it was one of the most incredible films I've ever watched. I started crying half an hour in and could not stop until the end. I think Peter Jackson did an incredible job of reinterpretting some ideas of the novel and making them translatable to the world of film. I also think he did a good job restraining the graphic elements of the book. I know he got a lot of flack for not overtly showing some of the more violent scenes from the novel, but I do believe that violence in books is incredibly different from violence in film. There seems to be a greater allowance for graphic scenes in a novel, and this just wasn't something I would've liked to see in a movie.
Now, on to the book! I was totally blown away by this book. It really captured my attention for hours at a time, and was certainly a page-turner. As cliched as all of that seems, I really felt like "The Lovely Bones" was one of those best-sellers that is also a work of literary mastery. The style was unlike anything I'd read before. I certainly wouldn't say it was inappropriate, although some people I know weren't feeling Sebold's style in terms of how she described Susie Salmon's rape and murder. I found the tone to be really appropriate considering the narrator is a teenage girl. Of course she doesn't necessarily have matured opinions about sexual abuse; she's still a kid. Susie's voice was what really kept me attached to this book.
I found I was strongly connected to the book because of the family dynamic. I come from a family of five. I am the oldest daughter, with a younger sister and an even younger brother. Susie's story was, at times, my own. Although this is obviously a very personal connection to one particularity of the story, I think what I'm getting at is the novel's appeal to anyone in a family. The vignettes for each of Susie's family members helps any reader to connect to at least one of the characters and become emotionally attached to the story.
Price: $14.99, paperback
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)
I used to be really awful about reading more than book at a time. I totally avoided starting a new book when I had another perfectly good one waiting for me. However, recently, I've found it's a little bit easier to do that. Now that I have to read 4 books at once for school, not to mention a free-reading book of my own, things can get kind of complicated. Despite that, I've been known to just pick up a new title and start whether I'm reading something else or not. I still finish the books I start, but if a book I've been waiting for suddenly makes it way into my hands, I can't say no! I have to start it right away.
Title: The Thirteen Curses
Author: Michelle Harrison
Michelle Harrison's much anticipated follow-up was as great as I was expecting! It may have been a huge help that, as I was reading it, I was on a train rolling through the English countryside, but hey, who's complaining? Certainly not me. :)
The book picks up right where Harrison left off, with orphan Red trapped in the fairy realm in attempts to get back her kidnapped baby brother. Red's adventures take her right to the court of the fairies, where she is given a difficult task in exchange for the return of her brother. Meanwhile, Tanya and Fabian are in the human realm, back at Elvesden Manor. When Red, returns with the details of her quest, they help in the discovery of the 13 curses, each linked to a charm on Tanya's bracelet.
The plot itself was really fast-paced, and I really enjoyed that the twists and turns where sprinkled throughout the narrative. However, the ending felt really, really rushed. It wasn't until about page 300 that we even learn about the curses and Red's quest. And from there, the ending just wraps up far too quickly. It's as if Harrison sat down to write the story and wrote way too much introductory plot, realized she was 300 pages in, and threw the ending together in the last 150 pages. I really would've liked for the main story-line to kick in a little earlier.
However, I think this was a great second novel for Harrison, and I sincerely hope that she puts out some more books soon (and that they come to the States!).
Price: £6.99, paperback
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones
Oh boy, I cannot wait for Diana Wynne Jones' new book to come out. I saw Enchanted Glass on amazon.com months ago and realized that, while working at Parenting, I could request a review copy for use in the magazine. SO, over winter break, I read Enchanted Glass and though not obsessed, I did really enjoy the book. Jones' writing style has always been a favorite of mine. I read my first DWJ book in the fourth grade and having been reading her books ever since. I really recommend you check out this title. Here's the link. And the lovely cover art for the hardback is above. Yay!
Friday, February 26, 2010
Title: Dead and Gone
Author: Charlaine Harris
Goodness knows once I have a Sookie Stackhouse book in my possession I can't resist it for long. I knew full well I wouldn't be able to let Dead and Gone sit on my shelf, waiting for me to finish my homework. No, last weekend, this book took precedence, and boy was it worth it.
In the 9th book of the series (and last published at this point) Sookie is facing the dangers of the Faerie realm. Her great-grandfather is involved in a war that is seeping into the human world, and Sookie is a target of his enemies. Meanwhile, the supes have decided to "come out," so to speak, and everything seems to be going well for them. That is, until a supe is found brutally murdered in the parking lot at Merlotte's. Sookie has to deal with this mystery, the growing Faerie threat, and her strained relationship with brother Jason, all well still trying to have a love-life! Oh boy Sook, you sure bit of more than you can chew (pun intended :D ).
What I liked best about this book was the return to the climactic structure. You could just feel this book building and building to the last 50 pages, which is exactly what I'm looking for in a guilty pleasure like this. The story was exciting and ended with a bang. Now, some readers (including a good friend of mine) might find it a little more violent than previous books. Truth be told, it was more violent and certainly not as happy-go-lucky as the other books. However, I feel like it was a move that the series had to make. We can't believe that Sookie will just keep having similar problems in even succession of each other, with right always winning out in the end. The series had to get darker to sustain readership, I think, and I'm certainly not unsatisfied with the change. I thought Harris showed a great aptitude for emotional story-telling in this volume, a far-cry from some earlier books in which I thought Sookie felt flat as a character.
I am so pleased that I've managed to catch up to the print schedule of these books and can not wait for the next book!
Price: $25.99, hardcover
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Title: Jupiter Williams
Author: S.I. Martin
Jupiter Williams was a free book given to me on my first day at NYU in London. All students are required to read it for a class we take together on Monday nights. When I was handed the book, I cringed a little. It looked like it might be a heavy, dense, literary story about African slaves in Britain. Not my idea of pleasure reading. What a relief to find that it was a children's book! Well, not necessarily children's, but certainly for a young audience. I found that I read it with much more enjoyment knowing it was right up my alley.
Jupiter, the title character, is attending an all boys black academy in London in the late 18th century. He is there with his brother, far away from their family in Sierra Leone. When Jupiter's brother is kidnapped, he must decide how he will uphold his father's honor and what his identity is in London.
Despite the my enjoyment in the genre, the book wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I do like historical fiction, but the context just wasn't my favorite. However, the story moved quite well and kept me very interested. I found that I became invested in Jupiter and hoped the best for him. The writing is sophisticated for a children's book, and Martine has a clear mastery of the facts behind his story. I liked it well enough to go to a launch party for the next book in the sequence, Jupiter Amidships. Meeting the author was an enlightening experience, and in introducing myself to his publicist, I may have secured an internship for the semester!
Price: £5.99, paperback
Title: From Dead to Worse
Author: Charlaine Harris
As I said in my last post, Charlaine is getting me even from London (which is evident by the fact that I finished this book and the last in such rapid succession that I didn't review in between). I'll keep this one a little more brief, since there's not much to say that won't give away some huge plot points.
After the conference in Rhodes, Sookie returns home to some bigger problems. The aftermath of a bombing at the Pyramids of Gizeh hotel has the vamps of Louisiana reeling and other vamp communities have taken note.
The book was just as exciting as others in the series, but it didn't have quite the same plot structure. Typically, you get a huge climax about 50 pages before the end and Sookie has to sort it all out and make it back to Bon Temps in the end. Here, there were a couple of climactic moments throughout, but nothing huge and revolutionary in the last 70 pages or so. There was no big reveal or twist, which left me kind of bummed. I sincerely hope that Dead and Gone (book number 9 in the series and the last one currently in print) can live up to my previous expectations of Sookie.
Price: $7.99, paperback
Title: All Together Dead
Author: Charlaine Harris
Even from across the pond, Charlaine has managed to suck me back in (no pun intended). As I progress through this series, I seem to take less and less time to read each book, which is proving quite dangerous for my bank account! Ok, maybe somewhat of an exaggeration considering these books are paperback romance in the extreme, but it worries me that I seem to have become dependent on Sookie, much like an addict.
This book takes place after Hurricane Katrina has hit Louisiana. It's quite heart-wrenching to realize that Katrina has happened to these people as well. What I found interesting about that was we never had a time-frame for when Sookie's story was taking place. I always assumed it was somewhat in the future, not in a science-fiction kind of way, but more in a "this could happen to you tomorrow" kind of way. Now, however, with the inclusion of the Hurricane, we seem to be in a parallel world to our own. The story is no loner one that could possibly take place in a few years time. It's now on the same track as our world, just with a few supes.
As I was saying, the story begins after the Hurricane, and the vampires of New Orleans are hurting because they've lost property and members of their ranks, and Sophie-Anne, queen of Louisiana, is about to go to trial for murdering her husband. As a matter of fact, she didn't kill her husband with her own hands and she was acting in self-defense after he began an all out war to stage a coup and take over Louisiana. But the courts don't know that, and Sophie-Anne, Sookie, Eric, Bill and a whole bunch more vamps have to go to a vampire conference in Rhodes, IL (holla!) to sort everything out.
I won't go into much more detail of the story, but truly, this was one of the most thrilling plots yet in the series. All kinds of shady politics go on inside the Pyramids of Gizeh hotel, and it's up to Sookie to use her powers to get the queen out alive. I thought that the development of Sookie's relationships with Eric, Quinn, and Bill was wonderful in this book. In the previous book, I was upset by the fact that Sookie could just write Bill off, pretend he didn't exist and never interact with him. Here, she was able to actually talk civilly with Bill. I thought the relationships became more real. The same goes for Quinn and Eric. Both become more questionable, less perfect, which makes everyone seem more realistic.
The book was, by all means, the best so far, and were it not for the extensive back story in the first six books, I would recommend this to everyone! Oh what the heck, everyone should read them all! Alright, don't read them to your kids. But seriously: read them.
Price: $7.99, paperback
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Author: Diana Gabaldon
I have been a most delinquent blogger for the past 2 months, and for that I am truly sorry. I'm trying to get back into the swing of things and keep my reviews updated, but it's difficult since I'm studying in London this semester and have a TON of reading to do for class. However, here I am with a review of my first read for 2010!
Outlander has, apparently, been something of a cult classic since it's publication in the early 90's. I had never heard of it until I saw An Echo in the Bone, the seventh book in the series, on Amazon's bestseller list. The plot summary piqued my interest, so I picked up book numero uno. I'll have you know, this was no 3 day read. It's not ridiculously literary, but it was very dense. At 850 pages, it was a seriously daunting task.
The length may have been the sole reason I didn't give this book a five. I found that the minor plots that caused the book to be 850 pages were, at times, unnecessary. However, I loved the story. Claire is an ex-nurse in post WWII Britain, on holiday with her husband when she walks through a circle of ancient standing stones and is transported back in time. The would-be sci-fi element of time travel is made much more fantastical by the old magic supposedly lurking in the stones. Whilst in 18th century Scotland, Claire falls in love with Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior and is now torn between her two loves. I won't give much more away, because the book was truly thrilling and beautifully written.
This is definitely NOT a YA book, by any means. The reason for the series' cult following is probably the book's sex scenes. They get pretty steamy. Sookie Stackhouse fans, this series may be something to look into while we wait for the release of Charlaine Harris's newest book! Anyway, like I said, very adult content, but appropriate for the storyline.
All in all, I definitely enjoyed Outlander, but I won't be attempting any of the other books in the series until the summer. You really need a couple of marathon sessions to get through these.
Price: $16.00, paperback
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Who’s your favorite author that other people are NOT reading? The one you want to evangelize for, the one you would run popularity campaigns for? The author that, so far as you’re concerned, everyone should be reading–but that nobody seems to have heard of. You know, not JK Rowling, not Jane Austen, not Hemingway–everybody’s heard of them. The author that you think should be that famous and can’t understand why they’re not…
Absolutely and without a doubt, it's Marcus Sedgwick. I think I've said this in my reviews of his books, but I love him and I don't know why he isn't that popular. His books do very well in the UK (which is where I am right now!) but US readers just have not picked them up. You have to order all his books on Amazon if you want them in the states. I love them and wish they's be more readily available over there!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
What books did you get for Christmas (or whichever holiday you may have celebrated last month)?
Do you usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions or do you prefer to buy them yourself?
I got a bunch of new books for Christmas, and I couldn't be happier. Here's which ones made their way under my tree:
-Witch's Business by Diana Wynne Jones
-Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
-The Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones
-The Letters of JRR Tolkein edited by Humphrey Carpenter
-Norwegian Folk Tales
-Russian Fairy Tales
-Folktales from India
-Irish Folk Tales
-Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michelle May
I love getting books as gifts, but usually I ask for more expensive or eclectic titles, since I buy myself a lot of quick reads.