Reading Roundup: December 2012

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

This book was slow to start for me; Mitchell's writing style is dense, there were a large number of characters, and the author drops you into the action immediately without a lot of explanation of what is going on. After a taking a break from the book a few times, I managed to get into the story and I really liked it. It was nice to read a good, meaty book for a change.

Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This book was surprisingly meaty as well. I'm not sure why it's been marketed as YA because the characters are not teenagers and the story isn't necessarily a teenage-oriented one. Either way, it was a fabulous book with great characters and a really unique writing style. And it's one of the few books I've found that actually passes the Bechdel test. One of my favorites this year.

The Winds and the Waves by Dean Hughes

Dean Hughes is one of my 'comfort food' authors; I know I can always count on him for an easy to read, yet satisfying story. This is the first in a new series from him that combines a historical story with a complementary present-day story. I thought the historical sections of the book were the strongest parts and the contemporary ones were kind of stilted and boring in comparison. I'm interested in reading the next book in the series to see if it gets better.

Signs of Life: A Memoir by Natalie Taylor

I know my life story has not been the same as Taylor's, but I really found a lot of insight for my own situation in this book. I really enjoyed Taylor's writing style and her unique voice, and as a person who loves books I particularly liked the way she organized each chapter around a particular book that she was either reading or teaching to her high school English students.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I was not super impressed by Divergent last month but I decided to give the second book a try. I'll probably read the final book in the series when it comes out just to have closure on the storyline, but even after two books I feel like I haven't gotten to know or like the main characters very much in these books.

I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits

The writing in this book was beautiful, but the pacing and characterization were done poorly. The first half of the book seems to be telling one story, all of which is background to the final part of the book, but the two halves don't come together very well. The climax comes from a character whom we have barely come to know in the last few chapters, and though I can see how the book is all meant to fit together, it just didn't work for me. If the author really wanted to tell an epic family story and make it work, she should have written an epic with enough pages to really cover seventy years of time and not skip forward in time and between characters so much.

Movies

Les Miserables

I think I need to see this movie again before I decide whether or not I love it. I really enjoyed it, but I didn't not love it. I think that 20 years of listening to the same recording of it makes it difficult to appreciate other versions with other singers. I though Russell Crowe was the weakest link; I'm undecided on Hugh Jackman simply because his style of singing was very different from what I'm used to seeing in the depiction of Valjean. Other than the singing, I liked everything else about the movie. I loved most of the choices in costumes, sets, camera angles, etc

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