Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Prince of Mist

I have long been a fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and, by the way, he has a great website. Anyway, his latest offering is actually the first book he wrote. In his earlier days, before Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, he wrote a set of four books for young adults. The Prince of Mist is the first one to be published and it is brilliant. Really quite scary, but as usual, beautifully described, with wonderful characters and gorgeous scene descriptions. The mystery is so imaginatively written and quite powerful. I read it in less than two days and I would have finished it in one, but I wanted to sleep last night. It is a horror story, but in a Philip Pullman Dark Materials kind of way. It is a book that suits young adults and above, a delight to read, providing excitement, terror, and adventure combined with rich characters and beautiful beach scenes. I can't wait for the next three to be published.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Complex cookery

Amazon were having a special offer on e-books, and being the type of girl that likes a bargain, I went and had a browse. One of the books I downloaded was The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman. It was very interesting and covered many topics, and if there is a flaw with this book, I would say that that is it...the story just had too many facets. The book's title does make you think that the main subject is the cookbook collector, who Jessamine meets while working part-time in an antique book shop, but that is only one of the many topics, and this is where I think the book could be better. The two main characters are Jess, who can't seem to settle in life or love and her sister, Emily, a clever entrepreneur, in a loving, and supposedly trusting relationship. The people interactions in this book are quite complex and you do wonder how one family can be so complicated! However, the saving grace of this book are the descriptions of the collection of cookery books, which are wonderful and the book just comes alive. The collection has books from the 15th century, and the descriptions of recipes and ingredients are divine, entirely mouth-watering, and had the book focused on this theme, then I think it would have become one of my favourites. However, the book also dwelled upon her sister, owner of highly successful IT company, and in competition with her boyfriend. On top of that, the story brings in family secrets including their Jewish faith, which is very interesting, but again, a lot to focus on and detracting from the main story, which was the cookery book collection. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it, but I think the author could have got three books out of it. It is a good book and well-written. It just felt very hectic, and when I finished it, all I was ready for was a very simple romance.

Which brings me on to my next book: A Mother's Gift by Debbie Macomber. I have spoken about Ms Macomber's books before. They are romantic, easy-to-read, and always have a happy ending. Just right for a rainy weekend. This one was no exception, and comprised of two stories. Both were about schoolfriends match-making their parents, and both stories had at least one of the parents widowed. In the first story, the children were in their early teens who wanted complete families and in the second story, the children were in their later teens, preparing to leave the nest, and not wanting to leave their parent alone. The stories are just nice. They cover difficult issues, like death and domestic violence, but they also demonstrate kindness and they are full of love. If you are looking for something deep, then this probably isn't the book for you, but if you are looking for a story with a happy ending, then, go for it and enjoy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Exotic food and treasure trails

I first read Pomegranate Soup four years ago, and really enjoyed it, learning about the delicious Iranian culinary delights and beautiful customs. So I was really pleased to find that Marsha Mehran had written a sequel. Rosewater and Soda Bread continues the story of the three sisters who fled Iran to set up an restaurant in County Meath, in Ireland. The latest update deals with unwanted pregnancy,
blossoming romances, and unexpected surprises. There are gorgeous descriptions of the food and Ireland, and the characters vary from the romantic to the wicked, from the kindly to the mean. Really enjoyable story!

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson was a really interesting story, about an American teenager who is left a series of letters by her artist aunt who recently died of cancer. The letters send her on a voyage of discovery in Europe, and each letter sends her to a different country, starting with London, and continuing to Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Corfu. She meets a whole load of people, falls in love, takes risks, and discovers more about her crazy aunt then she ever knew. I loved the characters and the descriptions of art and the cities she visited. Really good story, and I am glad to say that there is a sequel, which I will be reading soon, although not before a whole pile of books that I have to get through first. I love books and I love my Kindle!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Hope springing from ashes

I thought I had read all of Alice Hoffman's books, but I haven't. I found The Green Angel, a sad, but also beautiful tale, and quite poignant at this time where a number of natural disasters have recently occurred. This story tells the story of a girl who has lost her entire family to a disaster. It is so tragic, but tells of kindness and hope. It is a lovely, inspiring story, and very magical. There are lovely descriptions of asparagus soup and chestnut bread, and I love Ghost the greyhound. There was quite a lot of sadness in the first half of the book, but understandably so, and just like the perfect fairytale, as the girl is kindly in her activities, she is rewarded and her life begins to turn around. Life will never be the same, but her despair disappears.