Reading Roundup: December 2017

In the Woods by Tana French

I've seen this book pop up now and then on recommended lists, but never got around to reading it. While I love mysteries, I'm fairly picky about what I like, and wasn't sure I would enjoy this one. As you can see by what happened during the rest of the month, I totally loved this and went on to read the other five books that French has written so far. Although they are a series, each book focuses on a different character--although I would miss a character when we moved on from them, I also liked getting to know a new voice and perspective in each book. For me, the strongest aspect of this book was the psychology of the main character, and I was sad to leave him behind in the next book.

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

I've liked all of Reay's other books and had been looking forward to this one, and perhaps that anticipation made it harder to enjoy. I liked the protagonist and thought the setting was a lot of fun, although at times it felt a bit derivative. The biggest problem I had was that the conflict in the book was a bit too slight and didn't feel compelling enough to keep me engaged. 

The Likeness by Tana French

I loved this book while I was reading it, and after reading all the books in the series, it is still my favorite. First of all, the voice of the main character was complex and well-written. The particular conflict and situation were fascinating and kept me guessing. French is also particularly skilled in depicting places and people--in this book, the setting was a key part of the story. Even though I read it a month ago, it's stuck with me since then. 

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

I was happy to discover that Wein had written a new book, since she is one of my favorite authors. This isn't quite as good as Code Name Verity, but still features strong dialog, well-developed characters, and a story that kept me guessing.

Faithful Place by Tana French

Although I mostly enjoyed this book, if I had to rank them, this would probably be last. I figured out the twist fairly early, and I had a hard time with the amount of swearing in this book (quite a bit more than in the last two I'd read). Again, French's skill at creating a realistic setting was a big strength in the book. 

Broken Harbor by Tana French

I thought this book was also one of the better ones--particularly in the way the time and place of the setting directly informed the conflict. It did get a little weird and the conclusion was darker than I expected, but I really enjoyed it nevertheless.

The Secret Place by Tana French

I had a harder time reading this book because it is set in a school for teenage girls, with much of the action revolving around conflicts between them. There was a lot of slangy dialog and some of the story was hard to follow, plus it was a bit slow to get started. However, as with all the other books I've read, in the end I still loved it as much as the others.

The Trespasser by Tana French

Another excellent book, although I was sad after I finished it and realized that there won't be another in the series for a while. I particularly liked the protagonist in this book--she was complex and imperfect, yet kept me wanting to read more.

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

I didn't realize how little I knew about Van Gogh until I read this book; I felt that it gave me a much greater sense of his personality and his family relationships than I'd previously had. The middle part lagged a bit, but mostly it was a good read.

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley

There were many things I loved about this book, especially the fact that I could clearly see a lot of things that the narrator couldn't. That made it fun to read and kept the suspense high; I also liked the use of the particular setting and how it made the story more plausible. I didn't, however, like the ending, and that was a letdown.

Movies

Room 

After reading the book, I was reluctant to watch this movie because I knew that parts of it would be disturbing (they were). I also knew it would be difficult to fully capture the tone of the book, but surprisingly the movie did an admirable job. The acting was a particular strong point, especially Jacob Tremblay's performance.

While You Were Sleeping 

Should I even review this? I've watched it multiple times and I'm pretty sure I've reviewed it on my blog before. It's a great little holiday movie and just the right pick-me-up for a quiet night at home. 

The Muppet Christmas Carol

It's been years since I last watched this movie and I wasn't sure if I would like it or not as an adult. To be honest, the kids and I aren't huge Muppet fans (I know!). It turns out that we all loved it--Michael Caine is excellent (as always) and the movie is simply a lot of fun.

The Shape of Water

I'm trying to figure out why I didn't love this movie as much as I thought I would. It was wonderful in many ways, but I didn't feel completely blown away and I'm not in a hurry to go see it again. I think part of the problem is that it's a little too stylized, to an extent that I felt a bit removed from many of the characters. I think it deserves all the praise it's getting, but I probably won't rewatch it.

Holiday Inn

This was one of the movies we watched nearly every year for Christmas when I was a kid, so I was delighted to find it available for streaming. The kids mostly loved it as well, although we did have conversations about the inappropriateness of blackface and the weirdness of two men fighting over a woman who apparently has no say in the relationship. Some elements of the movie haven't aged as well, but the songs and dances are fabulous.

Inside Out

I haven't seen this movie since it was out in theaters, and thankfully it was still as good as I remembered it being the first time. The kids got more of the jokes this time, and they more clearly understood the message of the movie. We need to watch this more often.

Comments

SeƱora H-B said…
Yes yes yes yes yes yes! I love Tana French's books, but The Likeness is DEFINITELY my very favorite. I need to read it again...
FoxyJ said…
SO glad to meet another person who validates my love for Tana French! I've read a lot of crappy mystery books--it was delightful to find someone who can really write (and I found myself fascinated by many of the quirks of language in Ireland--have you noticed how she even changes the language to suit the characters and setting?)

Popular posts from this blog

What I didn't do today

Reading Roundup: July 2017

Reading Roundup: June 2017