Sunday, December 19, 2010

'Twas The Sunday Salon Before Christmas ....

Quite the busier-than-usual weekend for us, as we've officially entered the land of Christmas insanity.  We went to a family Christmas party on Saturday evening, and despite the long drive (a total of four hours) it was really nice to see everyone. 

After going to sleep earlier than usual last night,  I was awake at 4 a.m., headed to the mall at 10 a.m. to finish up some Christmas shopping, then grocery shopping, and then a Christmas party with Betty's Girl Scout troop. 

In the midst of all this Christmas hoopla this weekend, I managed to finish the last 35 pages of The Gift by Cecelia Ahern.  I don't tend to read seasonal books (i.e., Christmas books at Christmas, books set in a beach town when I'm on vacation, etc.) but I wanted to give The Gift a try when I saw this one on display at the library. I really like Cecelia Ahern's novels, which are almost in a genre all to themselves; they're light reads, but with an element of the modern day and the fairy tale. (If you like Sarah Addison Allen, chances are you'll like Cecelia Ahern.)

The Gift, however, wasn't my favorite of the three Cecilia Ahern books I've read (see my reviews of If You Could See Me Now and There's No Place Like Here).   Ahern's books usually deliver something more than just a light read.,  While this one definitely has a timeless message, the delivery fell a little flat with me.  I didn't connect with Lou, the main character (a combination of George Bailey, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Don Draper) and there was a secondary storyline that I kept waiting to develop more than it did.  At some parts in the novel, I felt Ahern was trying a little too hard to get the message across to her reader.   

I had some similar issues with The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds, which I finished earlier this week.  This was nominated for the Man Booker Prize (in 2009, I think) and I came to this one intrigued. (A story about poets and insane asylums that's based on true events? Sign me up!)

Sure enough, Adam Foulds grabbed my attention from the beginning, as he introduced Dr. Matthew Allen (the head of the asylum), his family, and the various other patients at High Beach. Among those patients are John Clare, the nature poet, and Septimus Tennyson, brother of the still-little-unknown-at-the-time of the story poet Alfred Tennyson. (Alfred "takes a house" nearby, in order to be close to his brother during his stay at High Beach.)

For a fairly short novel, there are a lot of characters in this, making the plot a little convoluted and confusing in parts.  And with such a large cast, it was hard to feel a connection with any of them.  

So, a somewhat eh ... week of reading, but one that was good because The Gift wound up being my 75th book of the year.  Not since I was a kid have I read 75 books in a year.  I was somewhere around 50 books mid-summer, and I remember thinking that 75 could be achievable but I didn't think it would actually happen.  Now I'm re-considering what I want to read for these last eleven days of 2010.  It was going to be Great Expectations by Charles Dickens but I think I might opt for shorter reads, given the craziness that this week and weekend will bring ... which could bring me to 80!

Hope your Sunday was a good one!

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


JoAnn said...

Good luck getting to 80! Great Expectations is wonderful, but may be better for after the holidays.

Iliana said...

I don't really read seasonal books either. Although a few times I have re-read A Christmas Carol.

Now the Foulds book sounds very good. I'll have to keep that one on my list.

Hope you get to 80 books!