The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind

Barcelona, 1945—A great world city lies shrouded in secrets after the war, and a boy mourning the loss of his mother finds solace in his love for an extraordinary book called The Shadow of the Wind, by an author named Julian Carax. When the boy searches for Carax’s other books, it begins to dawn on him, to his horror, that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book the man has ever written. Soon the boy realizes that The Shadow of the Wind is as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget, for the mystery of its author’s identity holds the key to an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love that someone will go to any lengths to keep secret. – Goodreads synopsis.


* * * * * * *

Reading this novel was like peeling an onion. Every time a layer of the story was revealed another was waiting to be told. I really enjoyed the experience of reading it. Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s writing is so descriptive that I felt I was an observer within the story – eavesdropping on the street or outside a window. The book is full of humor, passion, and intrigue. The Shadow of the Wind is Zafon’s wonderful gift to book lovers and I’m so glad I read it.

I recommend a visit to the author’s website for more information including an essay on why he writes. You’ll also find music composed and performed by the author for The Shadow of the Wind.

Show Me 5 Saturday – It Happened One Night


[SHOWME5.jpg]

That’s A Novel Idea hosts a MEME called Show Me Five Saturday. This meme will give each blogger an opportunity to give a brief description of a book they have read or reviewed during the week. It will work like this: Each Saturday you will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week

2 Words that describe the book
3 Settings where it took place or characters you met

4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it
5 Stars or less for your rating

* * * * * * *

1. It Happened One Night

2. Contemporary Romance

3. Takes place in Vermont. Characters: Lana Biel, Eli Ward

4. Liked:
the setting – Vermont and Wildflower Barn where Lana works
Charlotte – who encourages Lana to believe she can be a good mother
Eli – because he never lost faith in Lana. This could drive some readers nuts, though. *grin*
Didn’t like:
Karin – Lana’s bitter and manipulative sister.

5. 3 stars



It Happened One Night



Blue Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

Blue Christmas
Synopsis:

It’s the week before Christmas, and antiques dealer Weezie Foley is in a frenzy to garnish her shop for the Savannah historical district contest. She’s ready to shoot herself with her glue gun by the time she’s done, but the results are stunning. She’s certainly one-upped the owners of the trendy boutique around the corner, but suddenly things start to go missing from her display, and there seems to be a mysterious midnight visitor to her shop.

Still, Weezie has high hopes—perhaps in the form of an engagement ring from her chef boyfriend, though Daniel, always moody at the holidays, seems more distant than usual. But throw in Weezie’s decidedly odd family, a 1950s Christmas tree pin, and even a little help from the King himself (Elvis, that is), and maybe there will be a pocketful of miracles for Weezie this Christmas Eve.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this novel. I read Savannah Blues last month knowing I had Blue Christmas on my tbr shelf. Mary Kay Andrews has a way with words that just makes me smile.

It was fun to see what Weezie, Daniel and their wacky relatives and friends were up to. I loved the descriptions of Weezie’s Christmas decorating project as well as the debacle that was Christmas Eve family dinner. There’s a bit of a mild mystery woven into the story.

All in all, it’s a light, fun holiday book and I look forward to reading Savannah Breeze.



Show Me 5 Saturday – On Strike for Christmas by Sheila Roberts

[SHOWME5.jpg]

That’s A Novel Idea hosts a MEME called Show Me Five Saturday. This meme will give each blogger an opportunity to give a brief description of a book they have read or reviewed during the week. It will work like this: Each Saturday you will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week

2 Words that describe the book
3 Settings where it took place or characters you met

4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it
5 Stars or less for your rating

1. On Strike For Christmas by Sheila Roberts

2. Contemporary, ChickLit

3. Setting: the small town of Holly; several women (aka Yulezillas); and their mostly uninvolved husbands

4. I liked: The lessons learned on both sides of the strike
The light comedy that Sheila Roberts does so well
It read like one of those fun holiday tv movies
The recipes at the end

5. 4 stars

On Strike for Christmas


Bed & Breakfast by Lois Battle

Bed  &  Breakfast: A Novel

Library Journal:

In this well-crafted story by the author of Storyville (Viking, 1993), Josie Tatternall, a military widow in her seventies, is inspired by a friend’s nearly fatal illness to call together her own three daughters in particular, her estranged daughter, Cam, who has not been home since the death of her father years ago. What starts out as a family gathering for the twilight of Josie’s life actually marks the beginning of her understanding of her achievements and, quite unexpectedly, her second chance at love. The story introduces a cast of memorable characters, primarily Josie herself, who fully reminds us that life, love, and growth are not limited to any particular age. Somewhat light reading, but a good story nonetheless. (Susan C. Colegrove, Athens Regional Lib. System, Ga.)

* * * * * * *

My thoughts:
Holidays bring families together – for better or worse. Lois Battle has family dynamics down pat – whether you’re from the North or the South. Ms. Battle writes the truth – especially about sisters, mothers and friends. I didn’t think this novel was as light as Susan C. Colegrove (see Library Journal synopsis above) but I enjoyed the drama and recommend it to fans of Women’s Fiction.

“No one got through life without regrets. The best you could hope for was that they’d be the right regrets, that no matter what you’d suffered, you had taken a chance on love or whatever else you’d most wanted.” p.369


I read Bed & Breakfast for the Holiday Reading Challenge but it would also be a good book to read for Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge in 2010.

Show Me 5 Saturday – Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews


That’s A Novel Idea has started a new MEME called Show Me Five Saturday. This meme will give each blogger an opportunity to give a brief description of a book they have read or reviewed during the week. It will work like this: Each Saturday you will post the answer to these questions. The number indicates the number of answers you will provide.

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week

2 Words that describe the book
3 Settings where it took place or characters you met

4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it

5 Stars or less for your rating?



1. Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews

2. Chick-Lit, Mystery

3. Savannah;
the local antique furnishings scene (especially at Beaulieu, a “crumbling rice plantation”);
Weezie’s carriage house (behind her ex-husband’s townhouse).

4. Liked: the humorous writing of Ms. Andrews;
the main characters (Weezie and all her family and friends);
the budding romance of Weezie and Daniel;
the fact that I want to call my sisters and good friends to suggest this book.

5. 5 stars because it was such a fun read. I looked forward to picking it up again as soon as I had to set it down. There’s a sequel, yay!

Cover Image

From my bookshelf

Hugh and Bess by Susan Higginbotham

Cover Image


Synopsis:

Forced to marry Hugh le Despenser, the son and grandson of disgraced traitors, Bess de Montacute, just 13 years old, is appalled at his less-than-desirable past. Meanwhile, Hugh must give up the woman he really loves in order to marry the reluctant Bess. Far apart in age and haunted by the past, can Hugh and Bess somehow make their marriage work?

Just as walls break down and love begins to grow, the merciless plague endangers all whom the couple holds dear, threatening the life and love they have built.


* * * * * * *


I saw this book reviewed on many blogs a few months ago but didn’t know if it would be a book I’d want to read – until I read Alaine’s review. Then I won her monthly giveaway which was Hugh and Bess. It’s a wonderful story of two people ‘thrown together’ who end up truly loving each other. Hugh has endured horrible events in his life and is starting to live a normal life again. Bess is a young teen and not looking to be married at all much less to a stranger who is twenty years her senior. She’s an obedient daughter and agrees to the match.

Susan Higginbotham’s wonderful novel covers the early days of the arranged marriage; the battles that take Hugh away from Bess; and the day to day life of a knight and lady – which could entail visiting their tenants or visiting the king. Nothing prepares them, though, for the ravages of ‘the pestilence’ heading their way. No family is left untouched by this Black Death. They are powerless as they await their possible demise:

“It’s almost as if I think a soldier must feel, waiting for the enemy to attack.” (Bess)

“No. It’s worse, far worse. War’s never seemed so simple as it does now. There are rules, strategies, preparations that can be made. This is different. There is nothing we can do but wait and hope we are spared.” (Hugh)

How frightening that must have been! This really is an emotional story and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I appreciate the research that must precede writing a book such as this. Following the end of the novel is an Author’s Note that tells what happened to the relatives and close friends of Hugh and Bess. There is also a Reading Group Guide as well as an excerpt from The Traitor’s Wife (Ms. Higginbotham’s first book).


Personal copy