Saturday, October 05, 2013

Reading Roundup: September 2013

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

This book had some good things about it--the mystery certainly drew me in and I really liked the main character. However, I guessed both of the two major twists in the plot quite early and wasn't surprised by the ending. Some of the dialogue was also fairly clunky and the setting of the story with rich mean-girls in a New York private school was certainly not original.

Pumpkin Roll by Josi Kilpack

I've ended up reading Kilpack's Sadie Hoffmiller mysteries in backwards order; after picking up the series earlier this year for the Whitney Awards, I've become interested in going back to read the first few that I missed. This one seems to have been a turning point in the series, at least based on so many later references to 'what happened in Boston'. I did enjoy this one quite a lot and thought it was quite tightly plotted and had a good level of tension and real menace. The most recent book I read by Kilpack didn't quite live up to the level this one did, so I hope future offerings will get back there again. 

Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons

We read this for our book club this month; I was excited about it because it had been on my "books to read" list for some time now. However, ultimately I was disappointed in it. The concept and the plot seemed interesting, but the beginning of the book was rather slow and the conflict was not well developed. Also, the main character's motivations were not very clear and he just didn't seem like a very sympathetic character. 

Sugarhouse by Matthew Batt

This was billed as a memoir about home renovation, but this ends up only being part of the story. This is really a memoir about growing up, re-negotiating your relationship with your spouse and your family, and what it means to be an adult. I thought the author was a good writer and enjoyed this book quite a lot.

Prodigy by Marie Lu

I read the predecessor to this book, Legend, last year and thought it was merely OK. I actually enjoyed this one more than I thought I would--it has some of the standard 'middle of a trilogy' issues, but the world building and plot were still tight and I thought the characterization got much more interesting than in Legend.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This is a re-read--I first read this book about six years ago and didn't remember much about it besides enjoying it. It was just as enjoyable this time and a nice diversion during a busy week. I think this is the kind of book that works best when you just suspend your disbelief and dive in for a few hours.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

This book is difficult to describe--the plot is based on the true story of a woman who was executed for murder in 19th century Iceland. That sort of back-story is interesting enough, but the writing really made it stand out for me. It started kind of slow and it was a bit disorienting at first because of the very different place names and character names. However, after a while I got into it and found that I couldn't put the book down until it was finished.

Movies

The Spectacular Now

On the one hand this movie was well-made and really a great technical study of character. On the other hand, it kind of terrified me as a parent just because I hope my kids don't act like these ones as teenagers.  

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