I asked for (and got) Gone Girl last Christmas. Once I found out they were going to be making a movie of it, I thought I really should get to it soon. When the movie came out, I flew through it, desperate to finish it without being spoiled for anything. And I made it!
And I really liked it. There’s just so much going on – very twisty – that I can’t really talk about it too much without giving something away, so I’ll pretty much just leave it at that. I will weigh in on the somewhat controversial (so I’ve heard – again, I was desperately avoiding being spoiled so I didn’t actually click on any of the articles expressing outrage over the ending) and say that I thought it worked. I thought it was a good way of leaving things – maybe not very satisfying, but very real for everyone involved – at any rate, I definitely did not feel an urge to fling it through the nearest window as I’ve heard other people have.
My rating: A-
The White Devil by Justin Evans
Argh! I can’t think of what to say about this book. I was in the mood for another ghost story, so I picked this one up, but I was never really taken in by it, even though I toughed it out to the end. I think it was that the characters didn’t particularly click for me – none of them were very likable, didn’t make good decisions, and, honestly, I didn’t think that they were very well fleshed out or consistent. The ghost was certainly creepy – and frankly, a little gross toward the end – but I didn’t really buy his motivation. So a kid shows up at Harrow who looks like Lord Byron and the ghost of his spurned lover goes nuts and starts killing people? Just because somebody looks like his old boyfriend? I don’t know.
But I did manage to finish it, so I guess it can’t have been all bad – near the end I was skimming just to find out what was going to happen (not that I cared about the characters it was happening to). Frankly, I’d say that if you want a good ghost story, pick up Anna Dressed in Blood instead of this one.
My rating: D+
Read. More. Books. (For fun, that is.)
Skulduggery Pleasant: Kingdom of the Wicked by Derek Landy
This is Book 7 in the fantastic Skulduggery Pleasant series and it certainly doesn’t disappoint! It has all the characteristics we’ve come to expect from Skulduggery and Co. – witty banter, Dickensian names, fights, chase scenes, mystery, spying, and, of course, magic.
As usual, the magical world (and the mortal world) is in danger from a big bad (or in this case, a big good) who is trying to destroy it for various reasons and it’s up to Valkryie and Skulduggery to save the day. But I think we’re nearing the end of the series, or at least near enough that Landy needs to get his ducks in a row for the big final showdown I’m expecting and he certainly follows through – I had to read the very last chapter quite a few times before I was so excited that he was actually going to go there. It involves a character that I’ve always found a little creepy for, until now, unfounded reasons and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!
My rating: A
The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
I bought this book because the blurb on the front said that it was for “people who like Downton Abbey“…which is me! I loooooove Downton Abbey and I was in the mood for more upstairs-downstairs-romantic-history-type stories when I stumbled across this book.
I’d say the blurb is a little misleading in that, yes, it’s about an English manor house and, yes, it takes place during major English historical events (namely, World War II), but that’s about where the similarities to Downton Abbey end.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an enjoyable read! It took me a bit to get into it – the author’s writing feels a bit stilted at the beginning of the book and there are quite a few sentences that struck me as the kind of sentence that shows that the author is trying too hard to be evocative and, I don’t know, hyper-literary almost. But once I got into the author’s rhythms, I really found myself caught up in the story (well, the main romance I didn’t quite buy – I mean, I saw it coming and I wanted it to happen, but I didn’t really see where the emotions on the fellow’s side came from – the author did one of those tricks where the two mains meet and then, ta-da, we skip ahead a few months and they’re besties!).
It’s sounding like I’m being a little hard on the book, but it’s only because I was comparing it to Downton Abbey the whole time and it falls a little short of that, but as just a story, it was very engaging and it totally made me chuckle to myself and I was crying by the end, so I think, in the end, it was successful. I’d recommend it, but not necessarily in the same sentence as Downton Abbey.
Downton Arby’s, on the other hand, is a completely different matter. 😉
My rating: B-
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Heather and I made a deal – I would read her favorite book (Fingersmith) and she would read my favorite book (Three Men in a Boat). Clearly I love her more than she loves me because…voila! And I don’t see any reviews of Three Men in a Boat around anywhere, do you?
This book was really good! I’m not sure I bought the love story – the two main characters’ behavior did not convince me that they loved each other, let alone deserved to be together – but Sarah Waters really weaves a compelling tale. It’s also tres Dickensian – so many characters that seem unconnected and then one by one, everything clicks into place. And this book got me – I literally gasped and put it down and had to say “Heather! I just got to the part where (I’m not going to ruin it for you here)!” I think book 6 of Harry Potter was the last time a book made me do that (on a particular page turn), so that’s the company Sarah Waters is in.
My rating: A- (if the characters had been a bit more sympathetic, I would have upped the grade)
Uglies, Pretties, and Specials by Scott Westerfeld
It was exhausting and took me waaaaaaay longer than it should have for me to get through these three books, but I finally triumphed!
It’s an intriguing premise and Westerfeld’s a good writer, but the reason it took me so long to finish these books is that I didn’t care about the characters. Not a single one. The main character, Tally, is not very bright and just gets lucky most of the time. She makes terrible decisions and doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes. Her friend, Shay, is wasted – she starts out a protagonist, but then turns into a selfish, whiny, reckless (and not in an interesting way), flat character who doesn’t seem to have any motivation behind her actions. I’m still not sure if she ended up a good guy or a redeemed bad guy somehow.
By the third book, when Westerfeld opens up the focus of his world to include other cities and governments, I found that more interesting – probably because he was expanding upon the aforementioned intriguing premise – but still could not have cared less for the fate of any of his characters. What a waste.
My rating: D+
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
It’s here – it’s finally, finally here! The third and final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. And I’m going to be good and talk about it under a cut tag so as not to inadvertently spoil anyone!
The short answer to whether or not I liked it is ‘Yes, but…’ The long, spoilery version is…