Thursday, April 2, 2009

Books By Quarter

I am totally stealing this idea from Janssen and Elizabeth and partially from Fiona, whose Buncha Books posts are so awesome. I thought this would be WAY easier than waiting until the end of the year to type up my book list. Here are the books I've read this quarter, along with my (hopefully brief) thoughts.

1. 7th Heaven - James Patterson - Seventh book of the Women's Murder Club series. Good series, quick reads. I enjoyed it.

2. The Woods - Harlan Coben - Recommended by Fiona. Really good mystery with lots of unpredictable plot twists. Really liked it.

3. Slam - Nick Hornby - Hornby is the author of About a Boy, High Fidelity, and other British "lad lit" books. They're all very entertaining and quick reads. This one is no exception.

4. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer - Twilight series. Awful. See previous thoughts here. Um, and here.

5. A Much Married Man - Nicholas Coleridge - For some reason, it took me a really long time to finish this book. It's not that thick, but the type must be really small or something. Anyway, it's not bad. Entertaining.

6. A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - See, I read classics, too! Very good, very moving, but as is ALWAYS the case with Dickens, too many descriptions. Maybe I just bore easily.

7. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer - THANK GOD there are only four books in this series. I finally finished the whole damn series. Breaking Dawn is far and away the best in the series, but that is Not. Saying. Much.

8. Rise and Shine - Anna Quindlen - This book is very good until she makes a choice to use one of the characters as a plot device to bring another character home. I hated that choice and it colored the way I feel about the book.

9. Mr. White's Confession - Robert Clark - A very weird mystery. The plot is good and the book is well-written. I can't remember why it leaves me cold. Oh wait, yes, I do. The unlikely couple who become the heart of the book don't end up together. But it's good, and very twisty, and the red herrings are REALLY believable.

10. Revolutionary Road - Richard Yates - No, I haven't seen the movie. The sad part about this book is that the characters are not very likable. With likable characters, I think it would have rocked. And their kids are basically set pieces. In fact, the whole novel reads like a novel about marriage and family written by an unmarried man with no children.

11. Mohawk - Richard Russo - This is Russo's first novel, and it kind of shows. It's got the Russo hallmarks - set in a small town, focuses on families and the challenges they face. It doesn't have a very strong conclusion, though. Some questions are left unanswered. But it's still very, very good, as I hope should go without saying when we're discussing Richard Russo.

12. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - Anne Tyler - Has Anne Tyler ever written a bad book? Didn't think so. This one focuses on a mother and her three grown children - her personality, the sibling rivalry and the wounds the siblings inflict on each other.

13. Third Degree - Greg Iles - Another fine recommendation by Fiona. This is a serious thriller that I couldn't put down. I read it in one day and basically did not move from my recliner until I finished it. Gripping, exciting and suspenseful.

14. The Doctor's Wife - Elizabeth Brundage - Ugh. This book was populated by bad characters who did bad things. Nasty little piece of work.

15. A Disorder Peculiar to the Country - Ken Kaufus - A not-really-recommended by Fiona. But the premise sounded so good, I picked it up at a used book store and read it. And um, Fiona was right - it has a kickass premise on which it totally does not deliver. It's not bad, per se, it's just nowhere near as good as it could have been.

16. If Only It Were True - Marc Levy - Weird premise, weird delivery. A guy walks into his closet one day and finds a girl sitting there. She's the "spirit"? of the girl who owned the apartment before him. She's not dead, though, she's in a coma in a hospital across town, and they're getting ready to turn off her life support. Um, it's not that it's bad, it's just REALLY far-fetched.

17. The Good Earth - Pearl S. Buck - Very good. Rags to riches to fall from riches story set in China.

18. Away - Amy Bloom - Amazing until the ending. Too much buildup that didn't get delivered on. The prose is stunning, though.

19. Blindness - Jose Saramago - Tiresome. Kind of a post-apocalyptic novel. People start going blind. It is somehow contagious, so the blind people and the people they've come in contact with are quarantined in a mental hospital. There is one woman who doesn't go blind. I don't know, it was grim and unpleasant, and at first very gripping, but as things got worse and worse, I cared less and less. Maybe I am heartless.

20. Change Me Into Zeus' Daughter - Barbara Robinette Moss - A tough childhood, drunk dad memoir. Very compelling. Very well-written.

21. The Full Cupboard of Life - Alexander McCall Smith - The 6th? 7th? book in the Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency series. This series is so sweet. I really did not expect to like this series as much as I do. They're like cotton candy - fluffy and sweet and insubstantial. But they're cute little books.

22. Flipping Out - Marshall Karp - I will be telling you all about this book in a week or so. For now, suffice it to say that it's a very sharp, very funny mystery. Oh! And don't forget the contest!

23. Loud and Clear - Anna Quindlen - Essays from Anna Quindlen's years as a NY Times columnist. Some are great, some are annoying, some are just so-so. Overall, the book is enjoyable, if a big dose of "what Anna thinks".


Fiona Picklebottom said...

AWESOME!! I have a couple of these books in my TBR stack.

Pickles and Dimes said...

Ooh, this is perfect timing! I need to update my library list and put some more requests on there since I'm 999th in line for Jodi Picoult's newest.

Anyway, I loved your description of Blindness. Is that guy the same one who wrote The Cave? Because I could NOT get into that book, but I like books about creepy post-apocalyptic happenings (see The Road).

Shelly said...

Fiona - Thanks! Hope you enjoy them.

Shelly said...

Shauna - Honey, get thee to a Barnes and Noble. And yes, I just googled Saramago and he did write The Cave. I read a brief description and it doesn't sound very good.

Alice said...

HANDY! i love book review posts. i just bought 4 books for my upcoming read-in-the-sun trip, none of which i know anythign about :-) OOH, that's not true. one is a book i've heard a LOT about - it's supposed to be quite awful - but the main character has the same firstname / lastname as me, and it's a cheesy adventure/time travel novel, so i HAD to read it at some point!

Anonymous said...

Recommedation: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. Just finished it and can't wait to read the second.

Janssen said...

I must say, I am SHOCKED that you liked Breaking Dawn the best. I thought Eclipse was definitely the best of the bunch.

Great list - I love seeing what other people have to say about their books.

Shelly said...

Alice - I just googled and found the book you're talking about. It sounds pretty good, actually.

I love book review posts, too, I'm such a nerd.

Shelly said...

Shelly - Ooh! Thank you! I will add that to my list of books.

Shelly said...

Janssen - Well, keep in mind that I really did not like the series. But the Jacob section in Breaking Dawn was actually pretty good. If she wrote an entire novel about Jacob, from Jacob's perspective, I would read it.

Stefanie said...

Woah. You read twice as many books this QUARTER than I read all last year. I really should get off the Internet more often...

Shelly said...

Stef - Hi and welcome! Yes, but your blog is much funnier than mine. So we're even.