Tuesday, 17 April 2007

A Mixed Bag of Reading and Listening

Finished April 16th
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
I've been reading this one slowly for some time, as it never really grabbed me. I found it disappointing compared to some of her others. Comic book artist Daniel Stone ran from his past as a young man, and reinvented himself to become the husband of Laura and the father of Trixie. Has this denial caused his marital problems and the harm come to his daughter as she is apparently drugged and raped by her boyfriend at a party. Will Daniel's suppressed violence reemerge as he reacts to the situation. Will the two parents reconnect as they focus on helping their daughter? The suspense seems unnatural and many plot moves seem very manipulated by unlikely opportunities. The inserts of graphic novel did not add anything to the story from my point of view.

Finished April 14th
The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard
This suspense novel focuses on a night that changed many lives in a town forever, and what happened seventeen years later to bring out the truth of the events of that night.
In a small farming town in Kansas, 18-year-old Rex Shellenberger helps his father, town sheriff, and older brother, Patrick, look for newborn calves as a blizzard hits. He discovers the body of a naked teenage girl. Meanwhile Mitch Newquist sneaks down the stairs from the bedroom of his girlfriend, Abby Reynolds, to get a condom from her father's doctors office for their first time. As the events unfold and Mitch disappears from town by morning, Abby's father grows distant with his family, the town's reverence to the unknown dead girl known as "The Virgin" grows, time moves on. Seventeen years later, Mitch is drawn back to town and the secret harbored by his father, Rex's father, and Abby's father unfolds in dramatic fashion.
A great read.

Finished April 13th
Queen Emma and the Vikings: A History of Power, Love and Greed in Eleventh-Century England by Harriet O'Brien
This history of Queen Emma of England, born in Normandy and married to two English kings, Aethelred, the Anglo-Saxon and Cnut, the Dane, is fascinating. Emma had children with both kings, including a son from each that also became King of England, Hrathcnut by Cnut, and Edward (the Confessor) by Aethelred. Her great-nephew William from Normandy also ushered in the next radical change to the country. Emma is brought alive here from her introduction to England as the young bride of a king two decades older than her through the consort, and partner, of a decade-younger Danish warlord, to the Queen Mother. She is a strong figure and her influence is shown through the political actions of her second husband and her strong will to have her children maintain control of the country after his death.

Finished April 12th
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, read by Stephen Fry
Unabridged audiobook
Another classic that I never got around to reading. I really enjoyed this audiobook, and found it very amusing, with lots of wry humour. Earthman Arthur Dent is rescued from his about-to-be destructed planet by friend, and non-earthling, Ford Prefect.
After being forced to endure bad poetry and being set loose in space, the duo find themselves rescued, improbably. They join galaxy president Zaphod Beeblebrox, on the lam for stealing the spaceship containing the improbability computer, and his girlfriend Trillian (former earthwoman and astrophysicist Tricia McMillan). The ship also has on board a robot, Marvin, with a depressive personality. The humour is great, the stories unexpected and imaginative and great fun. Sorry I didn't catch it sooner.

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