The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman - There's something magical (no pun intended) about Neil Gaiman. His books are often about supernatural or fantastic creatures, but there is an innocence to them as well. The Ocean at the End of the Lane made me feel like a child reading a fairy tale for the first time. That's probably the highest compliment I can give. The story is sweet and scary and it's about heroes and villains, good vs. evil. I was filled with a childlike sense of wonder as I read it. In short, I loved it.
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith - JK Rowling can do no wrong. There was a lot of chatter post-Harry Potter about whether or not she could be successful outside the world of Hogwarts, but between The Casual Vacancy and this, her first Robert Galbraith novel, I think it's safe to say she's killing it. The story follows a down-on-his-luck detective investigating the apparent suicide of a supermodel. He is hired by the supermodel's adoptive brother who believes that the suicide was actually a homicide. The novel is like all of Rowling's work: smart, funny, observant, with an ending that wraps everything up, but not too neatly. Her second novel in this series (allegedly seven books - sound familiar?) just came out and I'm dying to pick it up.
Under the Skin by Michael Faber - This book had me hooked from the get-go. Isserley spends her days driving around Scotland looking for hitchhikers. They must be male and they must be built, tall, muscular, strong. What exactly does she want from them? The first chapters show her on one such drive, experiencing the thrill of spotting a good one, the excitement of having him hop in the car, her quickness of breath as she realizes that he is perfect. Is this a sexual encounter or is it something more sinister? Unfortunately, once I read far enough to discover what the reasons were, the story became much less interesting for me. While it covers a fascinating topic and expands on it in a way I've never read before, the rest of the novel didn't hold up to those first few exhilarating chapters.