41. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - Of course it's well written and of course we know every detail that touches the characters of this story - it's Ian McEwan! But strip away the style, and all you've got is a fleshed out cliche. I expected so much more from this author.
42. Coaching The Artsist Within by Eric Maisel - Eric Maisel has written quite a few books on becoming a more creative person, and as this one was the only one my local Borders had when I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my wallet, I thought I'd give it a try. There's a lot of good stuff here, all coming down to creating not being a something we arrive at effortlessly. I didn't do the exercises, but for they seem like the sort that would produce results. I liked his ideas well enough I'm going to give a few of his other books a try.
43.Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen- A story of a man's early years with a tent circus and his last days in a nursing home. The circus story could have stood on its own as a really good read, and then there wouldn't have been the too fast and too "happily ever after" ending. As historical fiction set during Prohibition and the Depression, this book is well researched.
44. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling - There's a lot to like in this book, and a lot that could have been made better if Rowling had an editor that actually edited. Reminding myself frequently that I'm not the audience this story, I slogged through the overwritten, dragged out, OOC or just plain WTF? moments, and when all was said I done, I think this is a decent ending to a more than decent story.
45. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje - Beautifully written story about....well, there's the part about the two sisters and the farm hand, and then there's the part about the sixteenth century French author. Other than one of the sisters being the one that researches the author, I'm not quite sure what the connection is supposed to be. Yes, they all suffer losses because of love, but that's an awfully common shared experience to base a novel on. But it is beautifully written, and the characters will hold your interest while you read the book.
46. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (Audiobook read by Michael Maloney) - This is one book that is going to stay with me for quite awhile. It's not very long, but it packs an emotional wallop. At the center of the story is Bruno, a nine year old boy adjusting to his family relocating for his father's new job. Many critics and blurbs for this book think that to mention anything more specific spoils what is supposed to be a slow reveal of where Bruno is living, but honestly, if you don't guess the location and what his father's job is when the boy first mispronounces the name, you're just not paying attention. Michael Maloney's reading of the story put me off at first, sounding as if this were a child's story rather than a story from a child's point of view, but once the implications of what Bruno and his family are a part of, that voice is all that keeps you hoping for a happy ending.
47. Storm Front - Book One of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher - I caught most of the Sci-Fi series based on this series, and liked the combination of magic and private eye story. The books (or at least this first one) do an even better job of that, because there's more time to give back story and more time for complications to arise - in other words, more depth. There's also more of Chicago in the books, and that's enough to make me want to read the next in the series.
48. Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J Shields - Shields almost pulls off an exhaustive "just the facts" look at the life and work of the author who have the world To Kill A Mockingbird. Occasionally, a bit of supposition sneaks in, but with the book based almost entirely on old interviews with Lee, letters written to or from her, or first person accounts it's left to the reader to decide the question that everyone wants to know - why was there never a second book? Before we get to that, though, there's plenty here about her life before she became a writer, how important she was to Truman Capote and "In Cold Blood", how her family reacted to her chosen profession, and last but not least, what she went through as a private person thrown into the public arena. I'd recommend this biography to anyone who aspires to be a published writer.
49. Grave Peril: Book Three of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher - I had to skip Book Two ( 15 library copies, all checked out - proof that SciFi should renew the TV series!), but it didn't lessen how much I'm enjoying these Occult/Gumshoe Mystery genre cross-over books. In this book, we find out a lot more about the vampires of Dresden's Chicago (there's one introduced in the last third of the book that deserves his own series of books); how God and religion work side by side with the Dark and Light Arts; and we meet what has to be Harry's worst relative - his Sidhe godmother. The plot is a little slow, covering the same ground over and over until Harry understands just what it is that wants him out of this world, but the characters are what makes this a "couldn't put it down" read.
50. First Love, Last Rights by Ian McEwan - A very early collection of short stories by Ian McEwan, and WOW! do they show what a gift this man has for writing about the darker side of humans. Incest, child abuse, murder - McEwan finds a way to relate all the taboos to deaths of people, animals, or dreams - nothing was too creepy for McEwan to explore. If you like his better known best sellers, I'd strongly recommend this collection to see where his roots lie.