Here are the twelve books:
1. Digital Fortress
2. Love Languages
3. Before I Go to Sleep
4. Not Just the Levees Broke
5. Lord of the Rings
6. Game of Thrones
7. You Had Me at Woof
9. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
10. Stormy Weather
11. Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know
12. Gone Girl
13. Defending Jacob
14. Kindest of Strangers
After posting the list on Facebook, I sent out an all-call for book loanings and went ahead and put a couple on hold at the library. Since posting, I have received three of them from actual people and one from the library. The first two books have already been read, and the third will be finished by the end of the weekend. Check out my short (I need to go to bed) book thoughts (not reviews, that sounds like a lot of work) below.
Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen
This book was recommended by a teacher friend at school. She is from Miami and lived through Hurricane Andrew, upon which this book is loosely based. I know Carl Hiaasen as a children's author of a book called "Hoot," so I wasn't sure what to expect from his adult novel. The reviews used words like "dark humor," "satirical," and "Hysterically funny," so I had decent expectations.
I'm not going to lie, it took me a long time to get into this book. Had it not been part of the challenge, I would have quit this book about 50 pages in. Those of you who know my books tastes know that I am drawn to dramatic, Debbie Downer-type books. I read very few humorous books, and even less satirical ones. At the beginning, I thought this book was just silly. There were 8 million characters, and I couldn't get them straight or care enough about any of them.
Luckily, I kept reading and ended up thoroughly enjoying it. At the most basic level of plot, there is a crazy former Florida governor who kidnaps a man who is on his honeymoon as he is videotaping hurricane damage like it's some kind of circus. His new bride, Bonnie, seems only mildly sad he is gone. She gets taken in by a man who received a large sum of money after a plane crash and collects skulls. He helps her retrieve her husband, who she no longer wants to be with. Meanwhile, there are quite a few people attempting to benefit from hurricane scams or avoid being sued for crappy work prior to the hurricane.
Even though I still couldn't keep quite everyone straight, I way enjoyed the humor and the plot by the end. It was not my usual and I probably won't read any of his other books (sorry, Laura!), but this one turned out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting.
Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
Now this book, on the other hand, was AMAZING. Recommended by Maggie, I put it on hold at the library as soon as she told me about it and read it in just under four days.
This woman was in a terrible accident and has lost her memory. She can remember some events from her childhood, but she wakes up every day having literally no memory or understanding of where she is. Each morning, her husband Ben retells her about the accident and her current state, and she spends her days trying to figure out who she is, only to forget it all when she goes to sleep.
She begins to see a doctor, against her husband's wishes, who encourages her to keep a journal. This helps her recall some more events, and she is at least able to read through it each day for verification that this all is true. One day, she opens her journal and sees that she has written "DO NOT TRUST BEN" in the front of it. At this point, she starts to doubt her accident, her husband, her friends, her doctor, and everyone else. However, there's no explanation in her journal why she SHOULDN'T trust Ben, except that he seems to keep details from her life from her. He explains this away as saying these things are too emotionally draining for her to have to re-learn every day. It of course comes to a head with a big dramatic scene and the truth being revealed, but I wouldn't dare write all that on a public blog, at least without a big spoiler alert.
This is one of those books where you spend the whole time trying to figure it out. My friend Tamara says that she always figures out books like this way early and they're never any fun, but I'm not sure if she would have gotten this one or not. I had several theories going, one of which turned out to be correct, but I hadn't figured it out with any certainty until the end.
I suggested this one to book club and we're meeting to discuss at the end of the month. Very much looking forward to hearing the other theories.