44. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
I really liked Nick Hornby's earlier books -- High Fidelity and (especially) About A Boy. This one was still pretty good, but I think there were maybe too many main characters and it did not grab me as much. It is an interesting premise, though. 4 people meet on the roof of a building, as they all go up there to kill themselves by jumping off. The book follows them as they make a kind of club and re-visit their decisions to not jump. The characters were really vividly drawn, and I enjoyed the book while reading it, but not a lot stayed with me after finishing.
45. The Cleft by Doris Lessing
This is a strange book about how men were created, and grew different from women. It is from the POV of a Roman historian, recounting this history he has recovered from old manuscripts. According to the history, there was a group of women living on these cliffs by the sea, and they reproduced by themselves. Eventually, some boys are born from time to time, this gets more common, and the story deals with the differences between the men and women and how the women deal with this change. I thought the book was really heavy handed and dwelt too much on how men and women are naturally different. It might have been making the point that men and women together are better than women or men alone, but the fact that the women were often characterized as nags and neat freaks while the men were irresponsible really bothered me.
46. The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
I picked this up from a free book exchange shelf when I was out of town, and it was an advance reader copy. I enjoyed this book a lot. It is about a wealthy family in Iran, and what happens to them after the shah is overthrown. I really came to care about the characters, and found the story very gripping. At parts, though, I found the story a little predictable. This may be because I have read quite a few books based in Iran after the revolution, and they have a lot of similarities. It was enjoyable and well written, though.
47. Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles
This book, and the next 2 are in my possession thanks to the wondrous Melinda and her librarian skillz and generosity.
This is a YA novel about childhood abuses within friendships. I thought it was kind of simplistic and way too obvious with its message which it kept hitting me over the head with. I might have liked it as a teenager, as there was a lot of drama, but I might also have been angry about its obvious lesson-teaching. Also, it started at the end of the story and then went back in time to explain how we got here. I have been running into a lot of this story telling device lately and I am really over it. Let's go back to linear stories for awhile, OK? You don't have to keep my interest by telling me what is going to happen -- let's try keeping my interest by telling a compelling story.
48. Beyond Escape! (Choose Your Own Adventure #15) by R. A. Montgomery
OK, I was sooooo excited when I got this because I use to love Choose Your Own Adventures so much. This is a new, re-released version, updated for the 21st century! R and I read this aloud and decided together which choices to make and as far as we could tell, updating it meant changing 'plane' to 'motor-glider' but it still wasn't quite up to the fancy plane advances I bet we have today. We were pretty disappointed by this book, as there were lots of pages without choices to be made, and it was really into the politics between the different imaginary countries. I think I liked the more fantastical Choose Your Own Adventures when I was younger, anyway, like with pirates or historical ones where I could be a pioneer or something.
49. The Pig Who Saved the World by Paul Shipton
This is a really fun book, again YA or maybe even a little younger than that. It is the second in a series and is about a member of Ulysses' crew who was turned into a pig and then, you got it, saves the world. I thought it was really funny and irreverent, and had a lot of awesome allusions to Roman and Greek mythology. Very fun and I wish I knew some kids who might enjoy it.