Arabia: A Journey Through the Heart of the Middle East by Levison Wood
This was my third book by Wood, and though I found it to be engaging, I felt it lacked something Walking the Nile and Walking the Himalayas possessed. It felt a little masochistically self-indulgent to place himself in such dangerous places at such a complicated time. Wood admits, he is addicted to travel, to adventure and to the thrill of exploring places fraught with conflict and complications. All that said, I sometimes felt he traveled through countries like Yemen and Syria, met people, heard their stories, but then moved on from them, which I found a little dissatisfying. I waned more. More insight, more contemplation of what can and must change, but maybe that's too tall an order. All in all, I enjoyed this book, which allowed me to play vicarious adventurer just as his previous ones did.
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
I'm not sure why it took me so long to read this book, but now that I have, I want to see the film adaptation, too! It's an intense story from start to finish, told from different POVs, which worked really well to create suspense. This method also allowed Lehane to make each of the characters seem very fleshed out and real. You could feel Jimmy's anguish and Dave's confusion, and this made an almost exhausting read, because I got so sucked into the emotions of the characters. The story itself isn't the most original, but the way it is told makes it outstanding. The writing is taut and polished and the setting drawn out so well I felt I was walking those streets beside the characters. I already know I'll be thinking about this book for some time to come. Definitely recommended!