Monday, December 17, 2007

TBR Challenge

So I found this thing online and I think I am going to try it. I don't have a physical stack of TBR books because I usually read books from the library (not a big rereader) but I do have a virtual stack of books so I'm going to pick some books from there.

Amanda's 2008 TRB CHALLENGE LIST

Birthmothers (Merry Bloch Jones)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone(JK Rowlings)
Primal Wound (Nancy Verrier)
Rebecca (Daphne Du Maurier )
The Golden Compass (Phillip Pullman)
Atonement (Ian McEwan)
Women in Love (D.H. Lawrence)
The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) - this one's for PB
On Writing - (Stephen King)
Native Tongue (Suzette Hayden Elgin)
The Abstinence Teacher (Tom Perrotta)
The Surrogate (Judith Henry Wall)

Alternates
Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk) also for PB

I tried to mix up some nonfiction adoption stuff I want / need to read, some fiction (which I love) and some classics that I ought to finally get to. We'll see

Quickie (James Patterson) - audiobook

This was OK. PB really enjoyed it. I found all of the plot turns to be a bit much. By the time I got to the 10th plot twist (and I'm not exaggerating - I think there are that many) it was almost laughable. The book was fast paced though which is perfect for me to listen to in the car.

Basic plot is that a police detective has an affair with her coworker, who is killed by her husband. The reasons for all of this (the affair, her coworker having the affair and her husband killing the coworker) are all part of the major plot twists.

One thing that really drove me craze about the book was that the main character kept having this big moral crisis about her infidelity - she felt guilty for lying to her husband about the affair even though HE KILLED HER LOVER. Ack. I kept wondering throughout if it was because it was a female character.

Anyway, maybe I didn't like it so much after all. But it was reasonably entertaining, especially when I was in traffic.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York (Gail Parent)

Ooooh, this book is clever. I read it because it was supposedly a predecessor to Bridget Jones and I have to admit it lived up to the hype.

The book is written supposedly as a suicide letter from a Jewish girl going on thirty in the 1970s who is at her wit's end because she can't get married. Not much in the way of plot but the book is just plain funny. It's hard to believe 1972 when this book was written (and five years before I was born) was 35 years ago. Ack!

Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)

*****THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS*******


This is actually a reread... but I haven't read it in at least 10 years. I don't know what it is about this series - it's about a nurse who steps into a set of stones in the Scottish Highlands and is transported back in time 200 years to the 1740s. There, she meets a Scotsman names Jamie who she must marry in order to avoid an uncomfortable political situation. The reason she has to marry him is that the brutal sadist who left Jamie irreparably scarred by means of a public flogging suspects Claire is a spy and means to "question" her. Ironically enough, this man is the great-great grandfather of the man Claire left behind in her time (Frank). Jack Randall also has the hots for Jamie - the reason he flogged him is because Jamie refused to have sex with him.
Oh, and Jamie is wanted for a murder because Jack framed him.

I really can't explain the appeal but the books are riveting. I never would have read it except one of my coworkers highly recommended it. I believe there are 4 books in all... They are some of my absolute favorites.

So back to the story. Claire and Jamie get married. Then Claire gets put up on witch charges because of her close association with a self proclaimed witch who just happens to have poisoned her husband because she is pregnant by the cripple laird's brother. Oh and the witch, Geillis Duncan? Turns out she is also from the future - just as she sacrifices herself to the screaming horde to save Claire, she gets a glimpse of her smallpox scar.

So then, Claire and Jamie return to his family estate, Lollybrach, which his sister Jenny and her one legged husband are running. Jamie thinks Jenny bore Jack Randall's son, but turns out she didn't. Just an ugly rumor. Jamie and Claire can only stay at Lollybrach for a fews days though as the English patrols are still hunting him.

They are about to leave when Jenny's baby is born. As they are making final moves, Jamie is captured by the English to a formidable prison, where he spends a lot of quality time with Jack Randall. He is sentenced to death by hanging. Claire breaks in only to find a weak Jamie who has already been tortured. Jack Randall walks in, catches Claire and Jamie bargains with Randall - he will participate in his games in exchange for Claire's freedom.

After Jack Randall nails Jamie's hand to the table, Claire is booted out the back of the prison and is set upon by wolves which she has to fight off with her bare hands. She is rescued by a huge man wearing a bearskin. Turns out he is Jamie's mom's former love, the one who gave her the pearls Claire now wears. He helps break Jamie out of prison, by sending many, many cattle into the prison. They get Jamie out but they are almost too late. Claire makes emergency repairs to his shattered hand and body, then they flee to an abby in France where Jamie has family and where he successfully recovered from near fatal wounds once before.

This time though, the pain is more mental than physical. Jamie admits to Claire that the torture he endured has left Claire and Jack linked in Jamie's mind and though he burns for her he cannot bear to touch her. He asks Claire to leave the abby, then promptly contracts a blood infection and is about to die. Claire has an incredibly odd encounter with him where she essentially pretends to be Jack Randall. Jamie fights her and slowly begins to heal from all he's been through. At the end of the book, Jamie and Claire are contemplating moving to America and they hint that Claire may be pregnant.

See, I don't know why I like it, but boy do I. I am surprised by how little I remember of the details of the book - I rarely reread so it might be this way with everything I read. Who knows? At any rate I think I will revisit the entire series. Will have to put the next one on my request list at the library.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Marching Season (Daniel Silva)

Loved it, loved it, loved it. PB and I listed to this one on audiobook - one of the best I've heard so far. It's written by a former war correspondent who uses his experiences in journalism to add rich detail to the novel.

It's the story of Michael, an on-again, off-again CIA agent whose married to the doctor of a liberal senator. The story centers around Michael's showdown with a deadly former-KGB, now killer for hire code named October. October tried to kill Michael and his wife but instead killed his partner and Michael's wife, Elizabeth killed October's lover and partner.

October works for a super secret society made up of the heads of various state intelligence units and big arms dealers. The essential idea is that they involve themselves in efforts to crush the Ireland peace accords in order to encourage violence, and therefore the need for weapons and state security worldwide.

I actually didn't know much about the Irish conflict before I listened to this book. I would definitely read more of his stuff.