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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I've read this one before, but I decided to pull it out again for old time's sake. There's nothing new to say about the book that hasn't been said numerous times before, but I've always had trouble with how slowly the novel begins. It develops into a very intricate, delicate, and heartwarming love tragedy, but Fitzgerald wasn't really interested in grabbing the reader's attention off the bat.
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. I sort of stumbled into reading this one. I've never been much of one for crime thrillers, but I was in a spot with nothing to read, so I picked up this one and thought I could just leave off whenever I got the chance. But on the way to putting the book down, I discovered I couldn't. I had seen the movie several years ago (starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Tim Robbins), but even though I knew the outcome, I wanted to see how the story developed. I thought the character of Dave Boyle (played by Tim Robbins in the movie) was extremely interesting. Dave, who had been kidnapped and molested at ten years old, still feels the effects of the crimes against him years into his adulthood - as a father, as a husband, as a friend. To me, the murder of Jimmy Marcus's daughter became an afterthought. I rarely say this about fiction novels, but this one has heart. You can't help feeling some pity for the characters involved.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. I cannot extol the virtues of this movie enough, but the book paled in comparison. The reverse was true for Mystic River (still a good movie, though). In case you're unfamiliar, the story follows Detective Teddy Daniels as he investigates the escape of an inmate from Shutter Island, a facility housing violent and mentally unstable criminals. Expounding on the plot might reveal too much, but if you have to choose, rent the film. Directed by Martin Scorsese, the acting and casting choices (Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max Van Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Jackie Earle Haley, Elias Koteas, etc.) are impeccable.
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. After reading this, the fifth volume in A Song of Ice and Fire, I felt like I was left with more questions than answers. Perhaps it's because the sixth book hasn't been released yet, but when I closed the book, I wanted more. With the other books, I knew all I had to do for more information was crack open the next novel, but I can't do that here. I appreciated that this book concentrated on some of my favorite characters (Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen) and mostly left out some of my least favorites (Brienne of Tarth, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark), but I'm prepared for the sixth to bring them back into the fold.
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin. This is the fourth book in Martin's series. I'm leaving my mind open to the idea that the future novels might intertwine these story lines better, but the forays into Dorne and the Iron Islands seemed out of place to me. Obviously, Martin was able to connect them in some fashion, but they seem like filler at this point. I can safely say that A Feast for Crows is my least favorite of the five novels so far, but it didn't stop me (nor should it stop you) from marching onward with the fifth book.
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk. I typically like Palahniuk. One of these days, I will probably devote an entire post to my feelings on his various novels. But I have been disappointed with most of his recent efforts, including this one; I have tried and failed many times to suffer through Pygmy. In the style of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, Damned tells the story of Maddy Spencer, a 13-year-old girl who dies of a marijuana overdose while her famous mom and dad are attending the Oscars. The premise is pretty funny (especially in the wake of Mitch McGary's banishment for smoking weed, but I digress), but I just had a tough time getting into this one. There are some good parts, like there are with almost all Palahniuk efforts, but the overall theme gets a little tiresome. I probably would have liked it better as a short story. There is a sequel, though, called Doomed, which I have yet to start.
Feel free to leave responses or reading suggestions in the comments or on the Book Suggestions page!