50 Book Challenge for 2012 for Marina of Daddyofattyo
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Managed 31 titles in 2010, 39 in 2011...I'm afraid this year may have a lower number because I've decided to tackle some of the daunting behemoths (1, 000 or so pages) that have been on my TBR list for some time. They are
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears
Centennial by James Michener
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon - having already read Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber and liked them
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
...and last, but not by any means least Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - don't be hating that I'm only up to book 5, it's only my way of prolonging the extacy of the series.
And so, I'm off to a great start, currently reading Under the Dome, but since most of my reading is done on the bus to and from work (2.5 to 3 hrs. daily) and The Dome is a might too hefty to carry with, I'm only about 350 pages into it (and loving it), so I'm bringing along lighter fare (yes, punny) - for the bus trip and in that manner have finished my first book of the year and it was
1. What we Talk About When we Talk About Love by Raymond Carver - having had very high expectations via reputation etc. I must say I was a tad underwhelmed. By all means, a very good writer, and some of the stories were great, but others - I'd like to say 'WTF'? but will instead say were simply over my little head. I don't understand a story that seems to have no beginning and no end, not even a seed of an idea to ponder - it's as if you found a loose page from a book that doesn't exactly leave you with any desire to go and hunt down that book right away. I have another book of his stories - Where I'm Calling From and I since that one is an anthology of his best, I have certainly not taken it off of my TBR list.
2. Under the Dome by Stephen King - absolutely great; can't think of another writer that can keep me engaged for every one of the 1000+ pages. Grateful for the list of characters before the start of the story - very helpful to keep track of who's who and what their roles are in this complex story. Excellent characterization - can't help rooting for the good guys. Without 'spoiling' the end - the bad guys get what they deserve. The very end is a little too fantastic sci-fi for my taste, but I guess there was no other way out of it. P.S. Loved the tiny reference to Lee Child's Jack Reacher.
3. The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine - good story, but had two major flaws for me. It is alternately narrated by different people, and I the switches seemed to creep up on me unawares, making me constantly wonder 'huh?, what did I miss?', just before I'd realize that 'oh, now it's the brother-in-law' or 'oh, now it's Jane' speaking. The other was the pervasive references to the British political structure and hyerarchy, which leaves me pretty ignorant of the exact import of what's going on. On the positive note, I really appreciated the psychological burdens of wrongdoing even years after the deed and all has blown over and noone suspects a thing, but the mind has a way of creating complications out of unresolved guilt. The pathology of the trusty friend who knew all the juicy details and with time tries to step into her dead friend's shoes looking for the excitement that her own life lacks and after being rebuked decides to carry out her own brand of vengence culminating in the worst tragedy for all involved. So, I'd say not the easiest read, but still worthwhile. A little disappointing, but will read other titles just to see if it was just this one that was a bit of a miss.
4.An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears - for once, I'm at a loss - so much to say about this book. Yes, it is a very good story, the writing is beautiful - but I agree with others - it is a very heavy, difficult read. Clearly reminded me how much I disliked studying that part of world history. So much intrigue (the bad kind), deceipt, betrayal, posturing etc. In this book almost every character is shown in turn to be wise and ignorant, brave and cowarldy, pious and evil, sympathetic and despicable, noble and dishonorable, honest and duplicitous, sincere and scheming. No true protagonist exists, perhaps only Sarah. The writing, though, is fabulous. I enjoyed reading about real historical trailblazers - having learned something after reading a book is a major plus for me. So, yes, read it - but not when you're looking for something light or feel-good.
6. The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver - another great mystery in the so far excellent series. Serial killer, human smuggler, the Ghost - brings a cargo of a few dozen Chinese illegal immigrants to the shore of New York City. But just before reaching land, he's tracked by the Coast Guard, so he blows up the ship just before making his escape. About a dozen immigrants escape as well, so the Ghost must catch and kill them all before they blow his scheme and identity. As usual, with a lot of shrewd deduction on the barest shreds of evidence, with the help of a very likeable and resourceful Chinese detective Sonny Li, who was undercover as one of the immigrants, Lincoln and Amelia nab their man.
7. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom - a reread from original read from about ten years ago, and what a treat! Maybe I'm older (actually, definately older), and perhaps a little wiser, but I loved it so much more this time! Fabulous book, invaluable life advice and reflections, and I've decided to put this on my 'must reread every year or two' list.
8. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout - a great title character, from a great small town of Crosby, Maine. Olive's story is told through a series of vignettes about other residents of Crosby, each having intersected with Olive profoundly or ever so briefly. Some are bright beacons, some are quite forgettable, but Olive herself is so vivid, she almost reminds me of an Eastern Scarlett O'Hara. Her husband Henry is also such a likeable man, I wish I could count him among my acquaintances.
9. The Snow Garden by Christopher Rice - not a bad story written badly. It felt like a story was written and then gone over and spruced up with flourishes of language or description here and there that just seemed out of place. I was much more pleased with A Density of Souls. I might still reserve judgement on Christiopher Rice until I read his third book.
10. Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian - Bohjalian continues to entertain. Love everything I've read so far.
11. The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner good story, so-so writing, too rough and heavy on the sex scenes. Would a woman running from an abusive psychopath husband really hook up with a guy who thrashed her aroung and 'fucked her hard'? I think not.
12. Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane - sooo good. So glad Lahane revisited Angie and Patrick in So. Boston. I fell in love with the characters and the writer in his first five books - all about Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. Then Mystic River became one of my favorite books of all time. Since then I've been waiting for something else to tantalize me - and this book finally did. Witty, clever, charming, quick... too bad the ending precludes any further adventures of this stellar duo.
13. Tripwire by Lee Child - my second book in the Jack Reacher series. Really wonderful. What a great writer - great story, well written. Jack Reacher, hightly decorated ex- MP is a drifter. Currently working in the Florida Keyes digging swimming pools incognito meets a PI from NY City looking for him and withing hours finds the said PI dead. Going to NY trying to figure out who hired this man to find him and why he runs into one man's brutal campaign to protect his post-Vietnam identity and super lucrative super shady business enterprise. Reacher discovers a connection to his old Army mentor and his daughter, Reacher's forbidden love. Told almost in real time the book's pace is riveting, the suspense is unrelenting, and the menace is chilling.
14. Running Blind by Lee Child - can't get enough of Jack Reacher.
15. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen - loved her early medical thrillers, Harvest, Bloodstream. This is her first Jane Rizzoli novel. As a crime/detective novel, it is certainly very good. I understand the rest of her books are of the Rizzoli series. While it sounds promising, I hope she'll not have abandoned her medical nerve scorchers completely.
17. The Hearing by John Lescroart - enough legal and criminal whodone it for several novels.
18. The Bed by the Window - by Scott Peck extraordinary love story and a mystery to solve. One gripe, is that a pivotal character you come love and respect gets murdered about a third of the way and the story loses its luster a bit, but the mystery is also suspensful.
19. The Vanished Man by Jeffery Deaver - boy, I love my Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs, but this one just didn't crackle like the three previous books. I sure hope this is not indicative of future books.
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