Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Reading Round-up

I read a lot.

No, really -- I don't think you understand.  I read A LOT.  If books were methamphetamine, all my teeth would have fallen out and I would on the Walgreens hit list for buying too much Sudaphed. 

I read so much that it has recently occurred to me that I have probably completely forgotten about alot of what I've read.  I wish I had been keeping a log or something about the stacks and stacks of books that I go through, like my best friend from college who has multiple binders logging all her reading experiences.  But since I haven't done that, I have decided to do monthly review posts of what I've been reading.  So here we go!

I started the month with  book that has been getting alot of good press and decent reviews, The Last Werewolf It had all the things I usually like -- a supernatural aspect, nice long length, decent writing, etc. And, well, it sucked.  It sucked so bad that I didn't even finish it, which is odd for me.  Man, was that one boring werewolf.  I gave up about a third of the way in because I was just tired of long monologues about how difficult it is to be a werewolf, and be the only one left.  Sheesh, Werewolf, just grow a pair and get on with life, okay?

After that, I raced through a bunch of sort of atmospheric mysteries.  The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes, Don't Breathe a Word, The Cloud of Unknowing, In Search of the Rose Notes, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter -- all decent, dark mysteries.  I enjoyed them all, and would recommend any of them, but doubt I'll remember much about them in a few months.

One mystery that stood out, though, was Before I Go To Sleep.  It was awesome. The main character is a woman who, after an accident, cannot form new memories.  She starts keeping a journal of her daily life, and through the journal she starts to realize that things are not what they seem.  Granted, it's not a totally original idea; the Guy Pierce movie Memento did it better, and Fifty First Dates did it funnier.  Nevertheless, this book grabbed me and I couldn't wait to keep reading it and see what happened.  You can't ask for much more from a book than that.

We can put The Kingdom of Childhood in the category of Not At All What I Was Expecting.  An odd little book about a female teacher having an affair with a young male student.  For some reason I was expecting the writer to want me to be sympathetic with the teacher, and it took me awhile to realize she didn't.  In fact, I hated that teacher.  But the portrayal of the student was wonderful.  Overall, I liked it quite a bit, and as I write this, I'm realizing that there was a lot in it to ponder.  And I like pondering.

The White Devil was a book I had been looking forward to.  Justin Evans wrote one of my all-time favorites, A Good and Happy Child, and I had great expectations for his new one. I think my expectations were a little TOO great, because even though it was good, and spooky, and nicely written, I was kind of disappointed.  I wanted it to make me think, like Good and Happy Child,  and it just didn't.  It was a nice, haunted boarding school story, but I'm not dying to tell people about it like I did with Good and Happy Child (that one's a great read around Halloween, by the way).

I finally got around to reading another book that's getting attention from literary types, The Night Circus, and for once, I thought the literary types were spot on.  This book was fanTASTic.  I was terribly sorry to see it end. The basics:  two magicians stage a contest between their students, but don't tell them (or the reader) what the contest really IS.  They have to figure out the rules as they go along, and as you read the book, you have to figure out what the HECK is happening. It's hard to describe, but wonderful to read. It was one of those rare books that made me truly irritated that such places and people don't exist in the real world.  Trust me, you should read this book

It was hard to find a follow-up to The Night Circus. I tried to keep up the circus theme with The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb:  A Novel. It was a nice book, and it sent me straight to Wikipedia to find out everything I could about Tom Thumb, P.T. Barnum, and the title character, Lavinia Bump. There's not much to find out, actually, hence the title inclusion of "A Novel."  The author chooses to focus on the relationship between Lavinia and Barnum, so ends the book long before Lavinia's death.  I'm actually hoping she writes a sequel, her treatment of Lavinia as a character was so engaging. 

If you've stuck with me through all this wordiness, let me sum it up for you:  do NOT read The Last Werewolf.  DO read The Night Circus -- heck, you could even read it twice. 

1 comment:

Inside Out said...

I love that you are doing this!