As you may have noticed, I've fallen a teensy bit behind on logging my reading. (Okay, maybe a year or so...) I'm catching back up, but especially for months when I've read more -- like October 2015 compared to September 2015 -- it takes me longer to write a post. But it's the end of January 2017, so it's time for a Resolution! Time to get this up to date. Fortunately, I'm not so far behind that I've forgotten what I've read and what I forgot about them and for many of these books I actually kept some (frequently brief) notes on them.
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Jim and Bob Burgess are summoned home by their sister to come to the legal aid of her troubled teenage son.
I realize that my opinion is swayed by how much YA fiction I've been reading -- and how much of it was uninspiring -- that reading something meant for adults with larger language and character doors was really refreshing. That being said, I thought this was fabulous. With concise elegance, Strout introduces characters and then reintroduces them as they evolve.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Returning to his childhood home -- no longer standing -- for a funeral, a man realizes the dark and mysterious occurrences of his youth have yet to be resolved.
I enjoy Neil Gaiman's fantasy. I like the quirky yet dire situations and settings. I liked this one in particular because it was so mundane and in many ways just a fictional memoir, but it maintained those elements of magic and the bizarre that are so special in Gaiman's books. This coming-home story was special and weird and an intriguing quick read.
Relic by Douglas Preston
After acquiring a valuable South American artifact, the New York Museum of Natural History is wrought with gruesome murders and it's up to Museum researcher Margo Green to uncover the cause and save the Museum.
Murder in the Museum! A supernatural monster lurking in the shadows! Academic mystery solving! What a ride! For as much fun as I had reading this, it really took me absolutely aaaaages to slog through it. I also had every intention of picking up the next book in the series right away because it was just so exciting -- like Indiana Jones! -- and (as of January 2017) still haven't done so. Yet, I still remember how thrilling the transcontinental adventure was, how creepy the monster's claws were, and how generally enjoyable the story was. So take from that what you will.
The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
Following death of their father and the ensuing financial strain, Emily, Navine, and their mother move to the home they inherited from their great-grandfather - an inventor who dabbled with dark forces.
This was a fine graphic novel. I liked the quirky characters the kids encounter (see bunny and octopus-creature on the cover) better than the kids themselves and the setting was interesting, but the story didn't feel very fresh. The art and the colors used, however, were enthralling. This is the first book in a series of graphic novels and I did not feel compelled to pick up book two.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Literary Fiction, International
An eloquent butler laments the decline of fine households, attitudes towards his profession, and Edwardian England.
Expressive and melancholy, The Remains of the Day moves at an astonishingly slow amble, but the story isn't really the point, so that's okay. Remains is more of a swan song and an exploration of a time and place than a story and it was lovely.
As an additional, silly thought, my favorite thing about this cover is that it says in small text at the bottom, "By the author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go" as though the book in your hands (or on your screen) is not The Remains of the Day. This book is by the guy who wrote it! Who wudda thunk?!
The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
To escape the stress and danger of war, Max Carver's parents move their family to a small, coastal town, but their anxiety continues to ratchet up as they discover that the accidental drowning of a young boy years before still impacts the community in otherworldly ways.
I wish this had been written for adults instead of for children. The villain was genuinely creepy and the story was tense and the setting appropriately eerie, but it felt like awareness of the intended audience held it back from being as magnificently mysterious as it could have been, leaving the book a bit tepid by the end.