Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What I've Read Lately

I thought I would share some of the books that I have read lately. I'm on Goodreads, but I generally only give stars to books and rarely write actual reviews. I'm always too impatient to get to the next book to read.

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell - I read this right before the movie came out and LOVED it! The movie didn't get great reviews, so I skipped it in the theater, but I'm glad I read the book. The book is actually a collection of six nested stories that intertwine. Each story is interrupted by the next, until you get to the sixth, which goes all the way through, then each story concludes (in reverse order). Between all of the stories, the book covers a wide variety of genres: historical fiction, mystery, comedy, sci-fi, dystopia. The vocabulary in the first and second sections gets a little difficult; I had to look up at least a dozen words in the dictionary. And the sixth story is filled with a made up dialect that took me around 15 pages to be able to quickly decipher while I was reading. Even with all of this, each of the stories is intriguing and it is interesting to try to find how they link together and this book ended up being one of my favorites.

Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern - I blew through this while riding on the interstate through the more boring parts of Wyoming. It is the story about two magicians in Victorian times that pit their proteges against each other in a sort of mystical chess game in a magical traveling circus. This book got mixed reviews on Goodreads; many people complained that it didn't have enough plot to be interesting - but I loved it. It gave off the same vibe as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (which also got the same criticisms of lack of plot, and which I also loved...). The descriptions of the magic circus were vivid and I could easily imagine myself being there.

Magic Bites, by Illona Andrews - This is more along the lines of junk food reading, but I just found this series, and I really enjoy it. It follows along the lines of almost all of the other paranormal fantasy series out there (plucky sarcastic heroine, vampires (but here with a gruesome twist), sexy were-creature love interest), but the writing is very well done, the story lines and characters are interesting (and the heroine is not an obvious Mary Sue *cough, cough* Anita Blake *cough, cough* Harry Dresden *ahem*...) and the alternate universe that the writer has created is fascinating (writers, actually... Illona Andrews is the pen name for a wife and husband team). I'm working my way through the whole series. The other series by this author, starting with On the Edge, is more of a romance series, and while it is still pretty well written (and I think I'll go ahead and read all of them), it has a few too many anti-feminist romance novel stereotypes for me to enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

The Twelve, by Justin Cronin - This was slightly disappointing. I loved the first book in this trilogy, The Passage. It turned the popular vampire novels upside down and had scary, fast zombie vampires in a post-apocalyptic scenario (instead of sparkly romantic vampires...). The Twelve has vampires, and action, and gore, but it was disappointingly slow at times. I think it is suffering from middle book syndrome and I hope the last book in the trilogy picks up. I would still say I enjoyed it, but The Passage was just a whole lot better.

The Aubrey-Maturin novels (starting with Master and Commander), by Patrick O'Brien - I have been working my way through this series for the past year and a half. There are 20 (and one half unfinished) novels in this series set during the Napoleonic War focusing on the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy and Dr. Stephen Maturin, ship's surgeon, naturalist and secret agent. This series is seriously the best bromance (god, I can't believe I just used that word...) since Holmes and Watson. I haven't read a whole lot of Jane Austen, which was written and set in the same general time period, but those that have, say that Patrick O'Brien has the period dialog down perfectly. And that dialog is often hilarious, in an understated way. I'm on book 18 and I'm going to be sad when I finish all of them. I will probably turn back around and start again from the beginning. 

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