I've been a bit of a reading fiend lately. I can normally manage a book a week or a little less, depending on the book, but I've been flying through books lately. It could be the lack of any compelling television, other than the occasional Veronica Mars marathon (which, yes all you people, Bethany, Kristen, Keri, were right about that show, it's great.) Or it could just be that I've read some really superb books lately. I haven't blogged about books much in the last six weeks or so, leaving a lot that I would love to review. But I'm pretty sure that's about ten too many for my readers, instead I'm going for just one or two sentences per book, short and concise. Which reminds me of these Two Minute Mysteries collections that I used to love to read in elementary and middle school. Just two pages and a murder or robbery would be vividly described and then you had a chance to solve it in your head and read the solution. They were genius and I felt brilliant those times when I could solve them quickly. I think they helped develop my early love of reading and mysteries specifically. So in homage to the Two Minute Mysteries, here are my 30 Second book reviews:
Room by Emma Donoghue - This book is brilliant and heartbreaking and narrated by a five year old boy who has never been outside of a 12' x 12' room. Go read it, right now, my favorite so far this year. I want to read it again today.
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak - I adored The Book Thief, also written by this author, and while this book is tricky, lighter, rambling, funny and a little corny, it left me feeling inspired and positive and wishing for an Australian accent.
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist - I watched the movie version of this book alone at night a few months ago. This was a mistake. I liked the movie better because it kept the creepy, grim, terrifying story but cut out all of the bulky disturbing side stories that I didn't enjoy in the book. I rarely like the movie better than the book, but the atmospheric and unsettling movie rose above for me.
Veronica by Mary Gaitskill - Following the up and down career of a model in the 1980's, Gaitskill created some complex and unlikable characters, but her enviable ability to craft and weave such lyrical words elevates the wandering plot and depressing subject matter.
The Debt Collector by Lynn S. Hightower - Blah, palate cleanser murder mystery, and yes, paycheck loan/cash advance companies can be evil, Hightower convinced me.
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby - It's Nick Hornby, what's not to like? Mid-life crisis, infidelity, a guru named Dr. Good News and a cranky writer's religious epiphany, hilarious and moving. And Hornby manages to write a novel from a female character's point of view surprisingly skillfully.
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier - Set in the 1800's and following the friendship of a middle class spinster and a working class girl, as they search for fossils along the beach of their English seaside town, the book was beautiful, frustrating and educational, highly recommend it. And damn it, it made me want to go on a feminist tirade again.
Half started and promptly quit two Clive Barker collections. I have often thought I should give Clive Barker a chance, since I love some horror and have read almost every Steven King novel. But Barker is too bloody and brutal and dark for me. I quit, with no qualms. I felt nauseated. and struggled to find a redeeming reason to spend my time reading it. I should have known since I've never been able to sit through a single Hellraiser movie without having nightmares about Pinhead. So many pins. I have to stop thinking about it, or he'll visit me tonight.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson - Now here's a little horror I enjoyed, unreliable narrator, things that go bump and then bloody in the night, menacing empty bedrooms, car accidents and gloom, a nice 1950's classic bit of gothic psychological terror.
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks - This one already received the full review treatment over here! And I'm excited, I have two new books I get to review for Blogher, hopefully in the next few weeks.
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff -I thought this book had a fascinating story, split between the autobiography of Brigham Young's 19th wife in the 1800's and a modern day story of a Latter Day Saint's off shoot cult full of polygamy, misogyny and child abuse, rather like a season of Big Love in book form, with less Bill Paxton, which in my book is always a good thing. I hate Chet.
And finally Handling The Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist - What would happen if all of the recently dead suddenly returned to life? This has to be the saddest, most melancholy zombie novel ever written, which shouldn't be a surprise since it's Swedish. It had a deeply troubling premise, strong well developed characters and left me feeling strange and wanting to hug all of my loved ones, immediately.
So that's it. I'm currently reading The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, but she might get postponed since the library just emailed me and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro just popped up from my hold list. I've heard excellent reviews about the book and movie too, so Kate might have to wait.
What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations? And if you are a book fiend like me, come find me over at Goodreads and let's be all friendly!