My California: Journeys by Great Writers.
A bunch of California authors writing about the Golden State. Some of the essays are very good, but many are rambling or random or seem almost unfinished.
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld.
This was a Connie selection and it was one of the best books she's ever lent me. Not a whole lot even happens plotwise- the book just portrays high school in almost agonizing detail.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin.
I enjoy fantasy books for the most part and this one was no exception, but it was rather short. It was about a young wizard who unleashes evil through his pride and then has to undo what he has done. I will probably read the rest of the series, but since it's a "classic" I will get them from the library.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
The best of the bunch by FAR. This book tackles religion, survival, zookeeping and the nature of storytelling. Hard to describe, so read it instead!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.
Told from the point of few of an autistic teenager, which makes the narration interesting and funny. I liked the parts where he wants to "do groaning" (which is where he lies on the floor and covers his ears and groans b/c he can't handle all the sights and sounds he is taking in) b/c it reminds me of taking Owen anyplace crowded like a museum or an aquarium or even the pier on a Sunday afternoon. He does less groaning though and more rolling on the floor- I call it "Marty McFlying" b/c he often uses his feet to push and slides backward over the floor much like Marty does with his electric guitar during "Johnny B. Goode" in the original Back to the Future.
I felt I gained a little insight into Owen's feelings on such occasions.
When the Nines Roll Over and Other Stories by David Benioff.
Entertainment Weekly called these stories "compulsively readable" but I beg to differ. They are okay at best, none were memorable except the final story in which a gay artist and his dancer boyfriend contract HIV and agree to try an experimental drug to help save their lives. SPOILER ALERT: The artist gets better but the dancer boyfriend ends up being in the control group, which means he got a placebo rather than real medicine and ends up dying. It was a very moving story and probably the only one that will stick with me. However, I would have enjoyed it a lot more without the disturbing account of the shaving party at which the gay couple meets, wherein the reader is treated to a stroke by stroke description of the artist shaving the dancer's balls with a straight razor. Do gay men really do this? I hope not. I like to think that when gay men get together they eat hors d'oeuvres or go antiquing or discuss window treatments, not lather up and shave each others balls.
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown.
I actually think this was better than The Da Vinci Code. There was a better twist at the end, and there was tons of information on "conclave", which is the secret meeting during which the Cardinals of the Catholic Church select a new pope. I think I enjoyed it so much because as I was reading it, Pope John Paul II died, which provided a nice mirror for my reading.
Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman.
This was a retelling of Wuthering Heights except in modern times and without the death of the "Cathy" character. The premise is that b/c the Cathy character, called March in this book, does not die, it allows March and her "Heathcliff", here called Hollis, to live out their relationship "here on Earth" rather than in Heaven. So what would Heathcliff and Cathy's life be like if instead of Cathy dying, Cathy had left her husband and run off with Heathcliff? That's the question asked by the book. SPOILER ALERT: The answer, apparently, is an abusive relationship straight out of a Lifetime movie. Kind of a let down if you ask me. In Emily Bronte's book, Cathy and Heathcliff had a much more complex kind of relationship in which their proud personalities were constantly clashing, whereas in this story, March turns into a sappy, spineless idiot who is completely controlled by her lover and even allows him to rough up her sixteen year old daughter. To me, this is NOT in keeping with Cathy's personality. But it was still a good read.
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz.
So far, this is wonderful. About a twenty-something short-order cook who, like Haley Joel, "sees dead people." It's hard to imagine how Koontz crafted such an original book out of such an un-original idea, but he did it.