Let us begin with Angels and Demons a book my mother relentlessly shoved at me until I finally broke down and read it. I'm not sure why I didn't want to, since I'd thought The DaVinci Code was possibly the funniest thing ever but, for some reason, I was loath to appear as if I were hopping back on the Dan Brown bandwagon. Grudgingly I must admit that Angels and Demons wasn't that bad. In fact, for the most part it was pretty good, for an adventure story, and less ridiculous than its more famous sequel. True, I saw the ending coming from a good hundred pages away, but just because you aren't surprised doesn't make it not fun. I sort of half recall hearing on NPR that Mr. Brown wrote Angels and Demons without having done any research. I don't know if that's actually true or if it's some sort of manufactured memory, but I was pretty bewildered when Mr. Brown's protagonist asserts that Christianity stole the notion of god-eating (communion, that is) (true) from the Aztecs. You know how it works, you're reading along, perfectly happy, with your suspension of disbelief engaged, and then something breaks through that barrier and you're suddenly thinking "From the AZTECS? Is he f----ing kidding me?" because, of course, there's no WAY western culture could have stolen ANYTHING from the Aztecs until something like the early 1500's, when Cortez (I think) explored South America, and I'm pretty sure communion was already an established Christian practice by then. Yeah... pretty sure. That aside, it was still a highly entertaining romp, and if you're reading this sort of a book for actual FACTS, well, you're not the sort of person I'd be asking about South American history.
Then was a random Agatha Christie I'd picked up for very little cash. It was called The Man in the Brown Suit and it was hilarious. I suppose, in a way, it was a murder mystery, since there was certainly a murder (or two?) in the beginning, and the identity of the murderer is revealed in the end, but nobody seems particularly invested in the fact. It's mostly the story of a young woman, left without relatives or money, who decides she's going to go have adventures and then she does. You tend to forget about the murder, you never really cared about the murdered person anyway, you just want to see what the main character will do next. I wouldn't be surprised if this novel were a sort of a bridge between her typical murder mysteries and novels published under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, though this isn't a patch on how dark those are.
Last is a manuscript, unpublished, written by my mother, Ms. Mary Shartle, entitled The Hermit: The Life and Legend of Lily Martindale. It's only in second or third draft form right now and was sitting on the coffee table when I had run out of things to read. "I don't want you to read it for another couple of months," she said, "I've got some editing to do," and, of course, I ignored her. She does have some editing to do, but it's a pretty strong story.
And that gets me to 86/100ish. Odds are I won't make it this year, but it'll be close.