Recent Reads | November 2016
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper: I picked this up because I needed something lighthearted, and it certainly delivered. With a fun, breezy tone and a fast paced plot, Arthur Pepper basically goes on a treasure hunt trying to find out more about his deceased wife's past before she met him. It is a fun read, and as expected with a book like this, it's super implausible and things tie neatly in a bow. If you're looking for something thats purely fun, pleasant and easy, this is a good one to pick up!
The Secret History: This was a re-read for me, but ohhhh man does it hold up well. I love this book still, so much so that I was even inspired to finally purchase it, which I rarely do. It's one of those stories where the characters feel truly alive and I am able to just effortlessly sink into that world. Donna Tartt is masterful at creating atmosphere, and even though the world her characters inhabit is our reality, her world building is still exceptional; she has successfully crafted a fully fleshed out space for her characters to operate within. The town's response to the main event is particularly fascinating, and you feel genuinely invested in her characters, their actions, and their fates. Nothing feels overly contrived or unrealistic, everyone acts according to their character and the twists are artfully and powerfully done. A beautiful work and a beloved modern classic for very good reason.
84, Charing Cross Road: Only 97 pages, non-fiction, and epistolary, I read this in about 40 minutes! A classic for bookstore lovers, it's a contrast between Helene's chatty, witty, teasing style and Frank her bookseller's gentle formality and English reserve. The two are kindred spirits and it's a warm look into their relationship over several decades. Rife with snippets illustrating the shifts in history, piles of fun banter, and beautiful book descriptions, this is an enjoyable way to pass an hour of your time.
Me Before You: I've read JoJo Moyes' novels before, several years ago, and was a bit underwhelmed, but with the movie of this one coming out I figured I'd give it a shot. I basically got what I expected; Moyes does contemporary fiction at a cut above most, but still not in league with a writer like Donna Tartt. It's an easy read, the plot went exactly how I expected, and there were a few great passages that made it worthwhile as a whole.
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits: This was my bookclub's pick this month, and I knew nothing about it going in except the cover was absolutely ridiculous, featuring cats, machine guns, and a robotic middle finger. What I got was basically a Quentin Tarantino movie in book form, but with quicker pace and even more action. This novel grabs you by the arm and yanks you into an absurd futuristic world filled with the mystery of a vast inheritance, casual murder by a lawless mob, and colorful characters galore. It never takes it's self seriously, is delightfully detailed, and I genuinely laughed out loud in many parts. A ton of fun, and a delightful, clever mystery/adventure; I've never read anything quite like it!
Leave Her to Heaven: I learned about this book by total chance while out book shopping with my mom. This is her favorite classic movie and we were completely shocked to discover it was a book. I had no expectations with this one and was completely enraptured at how well the writer is able to create his characters and give such fluid page-turning details throughout. A beautiful and manipulative woman loses her father whom she's very close to. As she goes to his favorite spot to remember his life, she meets a man that she is determined to become all consumed with and quickly marries. Through a series of whirlwind events, they first visit her husband's favorite place with his cripple brother, where he has a fatal accident and watches what happens from afar. The character's relationships change from this point on and you find yourself reading faster and faster to discover what's next as the power to destroy is as great as the power of love in this thrilling novel. I finished this in a matter of days and still can't let go of it, so good!
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper: I was hearing about this book over and over, and decided I had to read this seemingly charming and adventurous book. I am a sucker for interesting and complex older characters in novels, and felt like this would be equally lighthearted and substantial, from what I'd heard. I loved the concept of this story to remind you to continue living life, and that the adventure goes on despite life altering events. As the main character loses his wife and finds an unfamiliar piece of jewelry, he emerges from his comfort zone and grief to discover a history he was completely detached from. I felt like this book has great potential, and I couldn't help but wish for more from. It is certainly a fun and easy read, but don't expect more than that.
Me Before You: This was a first JoJo Moyes read for me, and I was intrigued from the beginning. With an entirely possible and heartbreaking life-altering scenario shaping this story, you find the most unlikely relationships develop. Louisa Clark is a late-20's woman still living at home and financially helping her family. When she loses her job, she's forced to take anything she can to help keep things afloat. When she meets Will Traynor, she is completely taken aback by his character and finds herself as a bit of a pawn for the controversy that arises. Their relationship was heartwarming and engaging as you see it unfold rather authentically and intimately. If the ending concept of the story doesn't bother you, I would recommend this lovely read.
After You: With how much I adored Me Before You, I was underwhelmed by this sequel. The ending of the first book leaves you feeling completely hopeful for life after loss and you, of course, can't help but wonder what happens with Louisa Clark. As we've learned about JoJo Moyes, she has a flair for dramatic events in her stories, and this one had more than its fair share. Too much, if I'm honest. I was curious as to where the author took Louisa's story, which is why I picked it up, but Lou's voice wasn't nearly as strong and interesting as in the first. As she finds herself rather lost in life since Will's death, she goes through a series of serious events, some life-altering, others very dramatic, until you neatly tie up the end of the story. If you haven't read it yet, it might be worth it to leave the ending at the first novel, unless this becomes a movie, then you have to read it for that sake.
Gathering Blue: Lois Lowry was one of the first authors I remember loving in grade school. The Giver has been a lifelong favorite. This book has been on my shelf for ages, and since I was waiting on a few library holds to show up, I picked this up for a quick read. In a dystopian world, a young disabled girl named Kira takes the lead in this story, beginning with a trial to defend her life. Then, finding herself in a ploy where she learns ghastly secrets, she feels compelled to change the way things are. I wouldn't call this a sequel to The Giver as I've seen it referred to online, and I do wish there was more, but I rather enjoyed it.