Life has been crazy hectic, leaving very little time for me to sit down and write full reviews for the books I’ve read lately. I didn’t want to not review them, though, so here are my two cents on a variety of books!
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Genre: gothic, historical fiction
Summary: Barcelona, 1945. Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates 11-year-old Daniel into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.
Mini Review: What a thrilling, engrossing, captivating book. This is gothic fiction. Mystery, romance, suspense, murder, literary passions, mistaken identity, ghosts (real or otherwise), haunted homes, ancient cities, a web of secrecy. I savored every word. There were moments of greatness here, with scenes that captivated me, I could not tear away. There were other moments that could’ve had more to it — more character development or more depth — to make it absolutely perfect. But perhaps that’s what happens when a work is translated: not all of the brilliance of the original shines through. I know this is brilliant. This translator did an excellent job conveying Zafón’s story. If you haven’t read this book yet, drop everything and do so now.
London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Published: June 2016
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Summary: Sunny’s always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she’s sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she’s got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London – starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can’t even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace. Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she’d have anything in common with. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it’s the people living there who make up its life and soul.
Mini Review: The city of my heart! It was a fun romp of a story, racing all over the city over 12 hours. Sunny is sweet and naive, and she has her share of boyfriend troubles (in my opinion, she should’ve been angrier earlier, but that would ruin the fun of this ode to London), but I loved the way others worked with her, strangers and friends alike, to help her find the boy who wronged her. So many great neighborhoods and snippets of history, fantastic locations with interesting trivia, and all the colorful people. I laughed out loud at many points in this book, even took pictures of quotes and passages I found hilarious, poignant, and so very true to life. If you’re looking for a good, quick, light contemporary YA, this is the book for you!
Blue Heron Series: The Best Man & The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Published: February 2013, October 2013
Genre: contemporary, romance
Rating: ★★★.75 and ★★★
Summary: (1) Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she’s ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family’s vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there’s some great scenery there….Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief – and best friend of her former fiancé. There’s a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it’s not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she’s having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.
(2) Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later—Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there… or she would if dating in Manningsport, New York, population 715, wasn’t easier said than done. Charming, handsome British professor Tom Barlow just wants to do right by his unofficial stepson, Charlie, but his visa is about to expire. Now Tom must either get a green card or leave the States—and leave Charlie behind. In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience. But juggling a fiancé, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard isn’t easy. And as sparks start to fly between Honor and Tom, they might discover that their pretend relationship is far too perfect to be anything but true love….
Mini Review for The Best Man: The characters felt authentic, even in the cheesy and comical bits, and there was a surprising amount of depth in the development and plot. The small town feel was so cute and quirky, and the novel was a great balance of comedy and romance. There was only one scene in particular that rubbed me the wrong way (you’ll know it when you read it), but overall this was an enjoyable read. Romance isn’t normally my go-to, but I wanted something good and light to read during the chaos. Higgins delivered, and I promise you: even though there were some romance cliches and tropes, I was still left guessing to the end how the pieces would come together.
Mini Review for The Perfect Match: Honor and Tom are two desperate souls (heavy emphasis on desperate, because that described Honor and her talking eggs (I kid you not) to a T) for two very different reasons, but they matched each other well. It was nice to be back in this small town atmosphere, even closer to the winery than the first book. I wasn’t a huge fan of Tom as a love interest, and Honor sometimes made me want to throttle her, but when the two were together they complimented one another. Together, I could root for them. I fully plan to continue the Blue Heron series!
Hopefully writing up another full review soon before the holidays hit! Keep reading, friends!
This qualifies as books 13 and 14 of 5 library books in 2017.
This qualifies as book 14 of 12 in the Rock My TBR challenge.