I finished two excellent books this weekend.
The Nautical Chart: A Novel of Adventure by Arturo Pérez-Reverte is an incredible sea story with great characters and a rich plot. The story moves gracefully through its intricate plot, moving from land to sea and back to shore just in time for the shocking conclusion. The Nautical Chart is suspenseful, detailed and intelligently written. It's a romance, an adventure, a thriller and a mystery, and you'll love the characters - the lonely sailor, the strong determined woman, the evil dwarf and the rich treasure hunter.
Beasts by Joyce Carol Oates is a quick book to read, but is powerful and well constructed. It's also the kind of book that many people feel they need to get up in arms against. I am sure some small town librarian will remove this book from her shelves. "Beasts" is an apt description of many of the main characters in the book. Gillian, the book's narrator, is subjected to some life changing experiences at a small college in New England. The book is nasty, brutish and mysterious. It has a feel of a modern gothic romance/horror story, but the reader stays too detached to be affected by the obsessions and games of the characters. I'd recommend this book be read with an open mind.