Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September Reading Recap

1.  Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon
Jennifer McMahon seems to specialize in the type of thriller that reminds me of yellow-tinted, spooky 70's movies, and I love them.  This book starts with a kidnapping, witnessed by a troubled young woman, and spends the rest of the time on the subsequent search for the victim, which of course brings back tons of demons from the past for everyone involved.  Even though I figured out (most of) the ending about halfway through, I still thought this book was well-written.

2.  An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
I really don't think there's anything Steve Martin can't do.  He acts, sings, plays the banjo, writes, and is a completely competent art connoisseur, to boot.  This book, which centers on the art world and the greed and dishonesty that takes over one girl's life, was so well-written.  It wasn't an enthralling story so much as that it was so real.  I didn't particularly like any of the main characters, but I don't think Martin wanted his readers to really like them.  Really good stuff.

3.  The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
This book reminded me of everything I love about Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, and every other great storyteller who ever wrote a book.  Ren is a 12-year-old orphan who is missing a hand, and he has no idea how he lost it.  He's been living in squalid conditions at a boys' orphanage when a stranger shows up, claiming to be his long-lost brother.  They leave the orphanage together, and the adventure begins.  There were so many great twists and unique characters, and I was just thoroughly enchanted.

4.  C by Tom McCarthy
I honestly don't know how to classify this book.  Obviously, the letter "c" is a common thread (the main character's last name starts with "c," and he seems to gravitate towards other "c" words, like "cocaine"), but as to a plot, I don't think I could really find one.  I felt like it was maybe a study in what happens to a child who is given everything he wants, as far as material needs go, but is completely neglected when it comes to affection or parental concern.  Some of the language was really beautiful, and I don't doubt that McCarthy is a great writer, but the book was so depressing and meandering that I was glad to finish it.

5.  The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
This book looked so promising to me - based on real events, it's set at an insane asylum in England where Alfred Lord Tennyson's brother has just been committed.  John Clare, another poet, is also an inmate.  The book started with such beautiful prose (which continued - Foulds is a poet, and his writing makes that evident), and then...nothing.  Literally, nothing happened.  I was unbelievably bored for the duration of the story.  The only slightly interesting character is the head doctor's daughter, who has a completely unrequited crush on Tennyson.  Disappointing.

6.  They're Watching by Gregg Hurwitz
I thought this was a so-so thriller about a guy who suddenly realizes that Big Brother has taken over his life - bugs in his house, people videoing his every move, etc.  The problem for me is that I didn't feel like this thriller was all that thrilling.  I kind of quit caring whether or not the guy was going to make it.  Just too long and too drawn out for my taste.