The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
This was on my reading list for The Nineteenth Century Novel. From the start, I was surprised by how intresting it was. My homework tells me that The Woman in White was the first - and best - of the 19th-Century 'sensantion novels.' It doesn't say how totally engrossing the book is. I simply could not put it down.
The thing that I loved best about the novel is the way that you have to piece the mystery together yourself using narratives from the different characters involved. And to say that Wilkie Collins handles the characterization masterfully is an understatement.
Sometimes I read a so-called classic novel and I think that the only reason it makes it into 'the canon' is because the people who put it there want to show how clever they are by appreciating a work that is either so far out there or so boring that no one else wants to read it. *cough,cough,Dickens,cough,cough* The Woman in White earned it's place among the greatest novels of time. It is beautifully crafted and thoroughly enjoyable.
Crescendo (Hush, Hush: Book 2), Becca Fitzpatrick
I have to say that I think this was probably more well-written than the first - which is rare with teen lit. It wasn't simply a rehash of what had come before (Can you tell what my hang-ups with teen literature are?) but a whole new story.
The story moved fluidly on and kept me engaged right up to the end. It also surprised me because I wasn't able to predict who the 'baddie' was until just before it was revealed to the MC - a rare occurance. The twist at the end even came as a surprise and made sure that I'll be picking up the third book.
The only flaw I found with Fitzpatrick's writing is that sometimes the narrative can feel a bit detached from the MC even though it was written in first person. I don't want to read that a character did something 'as if to' if she's telling me the story. Tell me what you did and why. But it didn't happen often and it's the only thing that let the story down.