- Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
The various plotlines, characters, and timeframes could have, in the hands of another writer, sparked confusion -- especially for someone like me who often struggles with the "who was that guy?" question during movies. However, Walter manages to make characters vivid enough to stick in the reader's memory. She paints beautiful images of place and very real, very fallible characters. Some are more likeable than other, but all stay in the reader's memory. It is not an easy read, nor a particularly quick one, but I think it is worth the effort. While I tend to read for characters, I think it also has enough plot for a reader looking for a more in-depth story. It is a lovely story, ultimately about what and whom we love.
I'd likely give it 4.5 stars, just because I'm stingy, but I'll round up to 5. It is a book for readers and lovers of written words looking for a novel to fall deeply into and a journey that rewards the follower.
- Little Night by Luanne Rice
I wavered on this book. I didn't really expect it to be spectacular, a bias I'll admit I hold against the more prolific fiction writers of our times. I did enjoy it, but it definitely ebbed and flowed. I was interested in the childhood backstory, Clare's career involving NYC bird life, the growing relationship between Grit and Clare, and in Clare's relationship with Paul. I was less interested in the developing mystery when Grit believes her mother is trying to reach out to her, Grit's film project, and in some of Grit's own forays into NYC, including her own flirtation and a potential career opportunity. As I write that, it becomes clear that, beyond her intersection with Clare (one of the high-pints for me), I wasn't all that compelled by Grit.
This is an okay book, just not something I'd feel compelled to share or revisit. Three stars. Perfectly fine, perhaps a decent plane read to keep you busy for a bit but one I'd gladly put down for a cup of Diet Sprite from the refreshments cart.