The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall
This was given to me a couple of years ago by kvratties, and I've finally gotten around to reading it. Great book. An unofficial "parody" of Gone With the Wind, that basically turns the whole story on its head. It's told by Scarlett's half-sister (the child of Scarlett's dad and Mammy), and . . . .well, I don't want to say to much or risk spoiling the plot. But basically it takes everything we thought we knew about the dynamic between the slaves (and later, former slaves) and the owners, and twists it all around in a very satisfying way. In one or two places I had trouble following the author's writing, but mostly it was a witty and interesting book. I'd recommend to anyone who enjoyed GWTW, but isn't such a purist that you'd be bothered to have the whole thing shot to hell. 8/10
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Interesting. At times, I found his prose hard to read . . . it's beautiful, but can be a bit tangled up, and I found myself having to read through passages more than once to get at what he was saying. He uses a lot of what I'd call "flowery" descriptions . . . lots of metaphor and unusual detail. An interesting story, characters that I really cared about. A good read, but not something I'll want to read again. One paragraph I found quoteable:
A stranger is shot in the street, you hardly move to help. But if, half an hour before, you spent just ten minutes with the fellow and knew a little about his family, you might just jump in front of his killer and try to stop it. Really knowing is good. Not knowing, or refusing to know, is bad, or amoral, at least. You can't act if you don't know. Acting without knowing takes you right off the cliff.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Lovely book. Written from the PoV of an autistic teenager, the narrator's voice is different from anything else I've ever read. Fascinating, and the story had some fantastic twists and surprises. 8/10
UnDead and UnWed by Mary Janice Davidson
Not bad, as vampire chick-lit goes. Actually, the author's style reminds me a lot of what I'm trying to accomplish in my own novel (the NaNovel that is now sitting waiting to be edited). But I want to do a better job with the humor than she did . . . I felt her timing was just a bit off at times. Still, I enjoyed the book and the characters, and had a few laughs. A very quick read, as was the sequel . . .
UnDead and UnEmployed by Mary Janice Davidson
A good continuation of the first . . . I didn't like it better or worse. Funny, light - I'll read more by this author as they're published.
Light on Snow by Anita Shreve
Shreve is one of my favourite authors, although her previous book, All He Wanted left me angry. I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't like this book, but I did. I didn't love it, although that might be because of the way I read it. Shreve is good at building the story in layers, and building suspense, but I read this in chunks while traveling on vacation. I think if I'd sat down and focused on it, and read it in fewer sittings, it would have had more of an effect on me. It's the story of a man and daughter who find a newborn baby abandoned in the woods, and what happens in the aftermath of their discovery. A good book, but not a great one, at least not as I experienced it. 7/10
The Big Year by Mark Obmascik
I LOVED this book! It's a true story about three men who competed against one another (and the previously held record) to see who could spot the highest number of bird species in North America in a single calendar year. It was funny and touching and really interesting for me, as a birder, although I'm not sure it would appeal quite as much to someone who doesn't bird. I laughed; I cried. This is one of the best books I've read this year. 10/10
Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
I enjoyed this book, about a woman who breaks up with her boyfriend, and then questions the wisdom of this when he starts writing a tell-all column for a "glamour" magazine. It's chick-lit, but with a bit more substance than some of the fluffier books in the genre. I was very satisfied with the way it ended, as well - the author chose to go for a more realistic ending, rather than the typical "fairy tale." 7/10
The Feng Shui Junkie by Brian Gallagher
Didn't really enjoy this book. It was a bit like watching a train wreck - not any fun, but somehow I couldn't look away. I wanted to see how it turned out, but now (having finished it) wish I hadn't bothered. The main character is a woman who discovers that her husband is cheating on her. In response, she behaves *very* badly. Repeatedly. To such a degree that it stopped being funny and went into the realm of disturbing. Shame to have ended my "big year" of reading on such a low note. That's okay - I'm sure to enjoy my first book of the new year more than the last of the old one. 4/10.
The complete list of all the books I read in 2004, with links to reviews, can be found here: