It's possible that's not how that works.
Anyway. As long as we're avoiding errands, we might as well talk books. These are most of the non-Diana Wynne Jones books I read on our road trip. It's been awhile so I'm just gonna do short reviews. I hope you don't mind.
I love her unabashed use of women to tell their own stories. She fleshes out her characters well, gets you to root for them, while still letting them be secretive, sometimes cruel, sometimes awesome. Basically, she lets them be whole people.
That said, this wasn't my favorite of hers. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, and there were some really beautiful moments for the characters. But the "twists" were pretty obvious--not often the case for Morton--and the final payoff was a bit of a let-down. For anyone new to Morton's books, I'd recommend The Secret Keeper, my favorite.
A Monster Calls is a short book, the writing spare and clean. This works beautifully with the subject matter--a young boy faced with his mother's life-threatening illness--which is anything but clean. And Ness doesn't shy away from the complexity. Conor, our narrator, is allowed to feel all the things, and it's honest and it's devastating. The use of the monster, who visits Conor repeatedly to tell him stories and reveal truth in all its complexity, is creepy and gorgeous (thanks in part to Jim Kay's rough, haunting illustrations throughout the book).
Read this book. Recommend it to people. Pass it around. With tissues.
Little Brother was another in-one-day read, mostly because I could not put it down once I started. It was that good.
Our narrator is Marcus, a teenage hacker who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when San Francisco is attacked by terrorists. This is where a lesser writer could have beat us over the head with the ideas of LOSING OUR FREEDOMS IN THE FACE OF TERRORISM and such, but Doctorow knows what he's doing. This book is smart. Marcus and his friends are really intelligent, and they give a shit about their community and their rights and each other. There are some great fist pump-y moments along the way when Marcus and/or co. make EXCELLENT WELL-INFORMED POINTS or we get to see THE POWER OF YOUTH WHEN THEY STAND TOGETHER.
Uh, can you tell this book made me feel really caps-locky a lot? Can't wait to read the sequel, Homeland.
Something I loved about this book (and Little Brother, now that I think about it) is that it's a genuinely thoughtful book that deals with a lot of Issues, but it doesn't feel like an Issue-Book, if that makes sense. It's not preachy or heavy-handed. It's sometimes uncomfortably matter-of-fact about it all. People do bad things, there are consequences. People suffer, there are consequences. Boom. Real life. But with magical bears.
I somehow managed to never read most of the Bachman books. My friend told me about the Desperation connection, and that was reason enough for me. Reading this book was like catching up with an old friend. King's voice is so familiar to me and it felt amazing to be reading an old school but new-to-me horror novel. I read every new book King writes, but it's been several years since he did a straight-up scary one, so this felt very good.
As always, the characterizations were full, no one got to look all good all the time, and no one was necessarily safe. The tension was constant and ever-increasing. I'm more psyched than ever for the Shining sequel due later this year, Doctor Sleep. Long live the King! and such.