Reading Roundup: May 2013

The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig

This was the first of three similar books that I've read in the past month. I like historical fiction and I like mysteries, so I really am enjoying this trend of books that trace a mystery from the past through the prism of the present. I still think that Kate Morton does it best, but there were some unique things about this book that I liked. For example, I liked that some of the main characters in the present knew things that the main character didn't; it felt more realistic that it was a personal search and made me connect with the protagonist more than I have in similar books. I also enjoyed the fact that there was some mystery left in the story--there were some elements that were never explained or conveniently laid out. This was a pretty fun read if you like historical fiction with a bit of mystery and romance included. 

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

I've been hearing good things about this book for at least a year but never had a chance to read it. It was quicker to read than I expected and the prose was very accessible and engaging. I found myself really drawn into the stories of the people that Boo profiles and thought that this was a beautiful, and heartbreaking, book. 

City of Saints by Andrew Hunt

This has a very similar title to a book I read last month for the Whitney's, but it's not the same at all. It's a hard-boiled mystery set in Salt Lake City during the early 1930s. Although the protagonist is faithfully LDS, it's not clear whether most of the other characters are. Either way, religion isn't really the main point of the story; instead, it's focused on the ugly side of life in a city that seems want to pretend crime doesn't happen. The genre is not my favorite, but for a first-time author I thought this was a great book and I might consider reading another with the same detective if one ever comes along. 

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I have mixed feelings about Picoult, but I'm a sucker for her books and I had a good time reading this one, as long as I just decided to enjoy my read and not nitpick it too much. As usual, she creates a rather difficult dilemma for her characters and then throws in a bunch of other complications, as well as narration from the point of view of a number of people. This wasn't as bad as some other Picoult books I've read, but not as good as other similar books I've read by different authors.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This was a book I wasn't sure I would like, despite hearing rave reviews about it. The story of a sheltered young woman falling in love with a paraplegic could either be horribly maudlin or overly sentimental, but it really wasn't. The style and plot are similar to some of my favorite chick-lit authors, but there was a vein of realism running through the book that kept it grounded. My only quibble was the author suddenly switching point of view when she wanted to explain certain plot complications or characters better--that's become one of my pet peeves lately because so many authors are doing it and it often feels like a lazy way of handling exposition.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

This was the second historical mystery I read this month, this time focusing on art rather than family history. I thought it was a good read, but I didn't really feel like the two stories (past and present) meshed together very well. I also felt like the reader learned a lot about the 'house girl' named Josephine, but it wasn't very clear that in the present day Carolina had learned enough about her to really justify the action she took in the end. It was a fun, quick read, but not my favorite.

Movies

The Great Gatsby

I really wanted to like this movie; I've loved Baz Luhrmann for years and have generally adored everything he's ever directed. But, this movie felt like it was trying to hard--it didn't feel cohesive enough and instead it just jumped from scene to scene as if ticking off parts on a list. And it got kind of boring in the middle.  The best parts were the song and dance numbers, but they pretty much stopped halfway through the story. I will confess that I have never read the book so I have no idea how well this succeeds as adaptation, but as a movie it's less than great.

Star Trek: Into Darkness

So, I have to confess that I'm a total Star Trek noob. I once saw the movie that involved whales, because I loved whales when I was a kid. But, I've never watched any version of the TV show or seen the first in this iteration that came out a few years ago. Despite the fact that I wasn't always sure what was going on and that I missed a lot of in-jokes, I still had fun watching this movie.

Comments

Th. said…
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Fwiw, you can read Gatsby in an afternoon. I'm no huge fan of the book, but Fitzgerald can write a lovely sentence.

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