I'm a bit late in blogging about these...
#1: The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I'm a big fan of Hawthorne's work -- I count The Scarlet Letter as one of my favorite books of all time. I adore his short stories and include them in my classes whenever I can. But for some reason, even though I had visited the real life house in Salem (highly recommend to anyone who visits there...I love Salem), I ignored this novel for years. Hence, adding it to my TBR Challenge list.
It was...OK. It didn't hold my attention in some chapters, and I was confused by some of the supernatural elements. But there were some sections that were just spectacular. The classic Hawthorne elements are there -- the past haunting the present, witchcraft, guilt, families suffering because of the deeds of their ancestors, etc. If you're new to Hawthorne, check out The Scarlet Letter first.
#2: The 158-Pound Marriage by John Irving
I adore John Irving. I re-read A Prayer for Owen Meany every year (yes, I'm weird). I love The Cider House Rules and The World According to Garp. So I thought I'd love this one, too. Nope. Not at all.
The sex and swinging in the novel didn't bother me, though it was a bit much at times. I just didn't get the point. I think Irving was examining love, marriage, sex, relationships, etc...but I don't know what the point was. It was a struggle to finish the book, really. It was just a klunker.