Books: The final stretch begins

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m approaching my goal of reading 100 books in 365 days. I’m pretty confident I am going to make it, but am surprised a bit that I am not farther ahead. Of course, I haven’t counted all the books I’ve given up on, though I do plan to make a list of those when I am finished. Anyway, a few more for the count:

#83 Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
I first read this book a couple of years back. Technically it’s young adult fiction, but I feel like it’s classified that way because the protagonist is a young adult, rather than because the writing is less sophisticated than in adult fiction. Anyway, this book is about Liz, who is dead. After getting hit by a car, Liz wakes up in Elsewhere. Elsewhere is kind of like Heaven, but not exactly. Really, it’s more like earth. There, people age backwards. When they become babies again, they are released back to earth, and start over. I like the idea and I like the story. Liz has to come to terms with her life and her death, with love, with loss, and with moving on. She’s a genuinely written character, easy to like, as are all the other characters who pop up along the way. It’s a nice way to think about the afterlife, and certainly easier to believe in than harps and angels for eternity.

Grade: A

Two Pratchett’s this time:

#84 Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

The last in the adult books that focuses on the witches, Carpe Jugulum also features vampires. I’m not sure if it’s a spin on Dracula or not, having not read that particular book. In any case, it’s enjoyable. Magrat has a baby, Lancre is over-run by mind-controlling vampires, and it’s up to the witches to save the day, as usual. Introduced are the Mac Nac Feegle, or the Wee Free Men, who make an appearance in the next book of his that I read. I’m sad to be finishing up the witches sequence – not sure what characters I’ll go for next. Several people have recommended the Watch, so maybe I’ll start there.

Grade: B+

#85 The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Again a “young adult” book that only seems to be so because the protagonist is a young person. True, in this book, the concepts are a little less abstract/satirical than in his adult fiction, but I still found it highly entertaining. Tiffany Aching, the main character, is a 9-year-old witch. She’s witty and smart and sassy, all qualities I like in a protagonist. The elves and their not-so-nice Queen make an appearance, along with the Nac Mac Feegle, who are little men with drinking and thieving problems. Tiffany is back in A Hat Full of Sky, which is the next Pratchett I plan on reading.

Grade: A

#86 and #87: Key of Light and Key of Knowledge by Norah Roberts
Oh, my secret shame rears its head again. I’ve decided that I really hate the trilogies that Norah Roberts writes, but for some reason, I keep reading them. Her romance-mysteries are comparatively much better, with richer plots and more believable (to a point) love stories. The trilogies are (even more) predictable and feature such wishy-washy characters, it’s hard for me to enjoy them. I particularly find it hard to believe the way people fall in love so fast. Anyway, these two books focus on two of three women who have been chosen by Celtic gods (it is so ridiculous) to locate keys (that happen to be in Virginia or something) to unlock some trapped demigoddesses. There’s a big baddie, some god named Kane, and hunky, manly men, and of course, vigorous sex (I skip those scenes because I find them obnoxious). They are totally dumb. Maybe the worst that I have read so far. I seriously doubt I will read the third because I already know what is going to happen. Girl three will fall in love with boy three, find her key, release the demigoddesses, and live happily ever after. Someone may get pregnant. They will all get married. I will want to barf. That said, I do have a sample of Roberts’ newest novel in my Kindle – but this is one of the mystery ones, not a trilogy, so maybe I’ll like it. It is important to have a vice, after all, even when it comes to literature.

Grade (for both): D

#88 Star Island by Carl Hiassen
Hiassen’s newest novel also takes place in South Florida, like all his novels. Familiar characters, like the former governor and Chemo the sociopath with a weed-whacker for a prosthesis, make an appearance, as well as a host of new characters. At the center of this book is Cherry Pye, a “singer” who is living La Vida Lohan. She’s a washed up, cracked out, untalented spoiled brat. Her parents are terrible enablers, who call her frequent ODs “gastritis.” There’s Ann, Cherry’s body double, who fools the paparazzi whenever she’s off the wagon, and Bang Abbott, a disgusting photographer who is obsessed with Cherry. The thing about Hiassen’s books is that all the characters are, sadly, believable. He does a great job of skewering the entertainment industry in this book. It’s funny and fast-paced and I really enjoyed it.

Grade: A

I’m not sure what I’ll read next. I want to download the new Pratchett, but I’m so far resisting as a cost-saving measure. We’ll see. I’m sure I’ll find something.

**Additionally, for those who are wondering (probably none of you), if I don’t count the books I’ve re-read, then I’m at 80. So, still pretty good.

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