The Horror of the Heights and Other Strange Tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


From the flap:

The Horror of the Heights and Other Strange Tales collects fourteen vintage stories, told as only a master of the Victorian terror tale can tell them. In these sophisticated fictions souls change bodies, monsters haunt the upper atmosphere, seances summon creatures from the astral plane, and mummies stalk the fog-shrouded streets of London.

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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Brief synopsis from Goodreads:


 Somewhere in South America at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening  until a band of terrorists breaks in, taking the entire party hostage.

But what begins as a life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.

Ann Patchett has written a novel that is as lyrical and profound as it is unforgettable. Bel Canto is a virtuoso performance by one of our best and most important writers.

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Second Glance by Jodi picoult

Just finished Second Glance by Jodi Picoult.
Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:

Ghosts and ghost hunters collide in this compelling tale of the paranormal set in Vermont's green mountains. When the patriarch of the Abenaki Indian tribe that was nearly eradicated by that state's eugenics project in the 1930s encounters Ross Wakeman, the miraculous survivor of several attempted suicides who wants nothing more than to be reunited with the woman he loved and lost, they set in motion a chain of events that will unravel an ancient murder and lead to a second chance at life and love for the victim's descendants. Picoult, author of Salem Falls, brings the past alive and peoples it with a cast of extraordinarily well-realized characters whose reach into the future touches the lives of a dying boy, a frightened girl, and their mothers--two women who've given up on love until the revenants stirred up by a plan to develop an ancient burial ground show them what they're missing.


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Dracula the Undead by Dacre Stoker


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dracula The Un-Dead is a bone-chilling sequel based on Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Dracula The Un-Dead begins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula "crumbled into dust." Van Helsing's protégé, Dr. Jack Seward, is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school for the London stage, only to stumble upon the troubled production of "Dracula," directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself.

The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents' terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he experiences evil in a way he had never imagined. One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula a quarter-century ago is being hunted down. Could it be that Dracula somehow survived their attack and is seeking revenge? Or is their another force at work whose relentless purpose is to destroy anything and anyone associated with Dracula?

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The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Just, I mean just, finished it.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When Henry meets Clare, he is twenty-eight and she is twenty. Henry has never met Clare before; Clare has known Henry since she was six. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. Henry and Clare's attempts to live normal lives are threatened by a force they can neither prevent nor control, making their passionate love story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable. The Time Traveler's Wife is a story of fate, hope and belief, and more than that, it's about the power of love to endure beyond the bounds of time.

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Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


I read this in the original Spanish, but here is the brief synopsis from Goodreads:

In a Latin American port city during colonial times, a young girl named Sierva Maria de Todos los Angeles is bitten by a rabid dog. Her father, who has shown no interest in the child, begins a crusade to save her life, eventually committing her to the Convent of Santa Clara when the bishop persuades him that his daughter is possessed by demons. In fact, Sierva Maria has shown no signs of being infected by rabies or by demons; she is simply being punished for being different. Having been raised by the family's slaves, she knows their languages and wears their Santeria necklaces; she is perceived by the effete European Americans around her as "not of this world." Only the priest who has reluctantly accepted the job as her exorcist believes she is neither sick nor possessed but terrified after being inexplicably "interred alive" among the superstitious nuns.

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The Magicians by Lev Grossman


 I recently finished reading this book. Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

Mixing the magic of beloved children's fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond, Lev Grossman's Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grownups. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he’s admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential--though it's unclear what he should do with it once he's moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they discover the magical land of Fillory is real and launch an expedition to use their powers to set things right in the kingdom--which, naturally, turns out to be a much murkier proposition than expected. The Magicians breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know--if the people you want to know are charismatic, brilliant, complex, flawed magicians--and does what Quentin claims books never really manage to do: "get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better. " Or if not better, at least a heck of a lot more interesting. --Mari Malcolm

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I finished The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King last night. I am still reeling from the ending. I'm not going to give anything away because that would be almost a crime, but I am still aghast at the conclusion. 
It is horrible and wonderful at the same time, the only ending that could have fit such an incredible story.
I don't have many coherent words right now to talk about it because it is still way too fresh in my head, but if you haven't read the series go and do it right now. You will not be disappointed.
Here is the synopsis:

Roland’s ka-tet is reunited, but not without cost.  The last episode of the story takes them on the final stretch of their journey to The Dark Tower.  Though they have rescued Susannah, there are still enemies who must be dealt with along the way and who could be their ultimate destruction.  Constant readers will recognize characters from past books, who like the ka-tet, have found themselves caught in the spider's web spun by the Crimson King? Gan?  Questions are answered and others asked. The journey is long and ka is but a wheel. 


Delirium

A few days ago I finished Delirium by Laura Restrepo.
Like an idiot I picked it up in the library without realizing that the original was in Spanish. I, like many people, prefer to read a book without the middle man in the form of a translator, so I was disappointed that I didn't pay closer attention.
Besides that, I did enjoy the book. It's beautifully written, with lush, warm phrases and a surprisingly interesting lack of punctuation that makes the sentences realer. After all, we don't always think in complete sentences, do we?
The book is told from three different points of view: the main woman, Agustina, who suffers a mental breakdown while her husband is on a business trip; the husband, Aguilar, who has to piece together what happened to his wife  while he was gone; and Midas, an ex-boyfriend who has dealings with Pablo Escobar that get him in very hot water.
These story lines merge to create a picture of a dysfunctional world in which things are not always as they appear.
It's a quick read, but not a light one, so if you are struggling with any kind of depression I wouldn't suggest it. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.

Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
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Lack of Maladies


 I finished reading Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri last night. It is a collection of short stories which won her the Pulitzer prize, so when I picked it up I expected high marks. It did not disappoint. I am not too keen on short story collections, usually they leave me with an uncomfortable feeling. Needing closure. But these were beautifully crafted. Well written, relatable characters, and situations that had meanings and resolutions. I enjoyed reading about the Indian culture and the interaction of that culture with our Western one. The title story is fabulous, about a man driving a dysfunctional American family from Indian descent in a tour of some of India's sacred sites. The description of what his other job is, an interpreter in a doctor's office, and the subsequent misunderstanding on the woman traveler's part as to what that job really meant is really cunningly done. The tension the main character and, therefore, we feel in the last page of the story is one of the better endings of any of the short stories that I've ever read. I highly recommend this book to anyone in the least bit interested in Indian culture, or just fishing around for something different to read. Well worth it.

                                 Rating:
                                 5 out of 5 stars