Dec. 14th, 2012

goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Prisoner of Heaven
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Genre: Historical fiction, suspense
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 278
Date read: December, 2012

Christmas in Barcelona in 1957, one year after Daniel and Bea from The Shadow of the Wind have married. They now have a son, Julian, and are living with Daniel's father at Sempere & Sons. Fermin still works with them and is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. However something appears to be bothering him.

Daniel is alone in the shop one morning when a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters. He spots one of their most precious volumes that is kept locked in a glass cabinet, a beautiful and unique illustrated edition of The Count of Monte Cristo. Despite the fact that the stranger seems to care little for books, he wants to buy this expensive edition. Then, to Daniel's surprise, the man inscribes the book with the words 'To Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future'. This visit leads back to a story of imprisonment, betrayal and the return of a deadly rival.

Even though The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in the series of the Cemetary of Forgotten Books, it isn't necessary to have read the two first books in the series. It continues some of the story of especially Shadow of the Wind in such a way that will satisfy people who have read that book, but not confuse readers who haven't.

In The Prisoner of Heaven Fermin is in focus, and we are given his history - how he was imprisoned during the Spanish civil war, how he escaped with the help of a fellow prisoner, and how these events brought him into Daniel's life.

It's very different form the two other books - not the least because it's a lot shorter - but it still has the same gothic style, and I actually ended up thinking it was the best of the lot. I appreciated the look into Fermin's life and getting a better understanding for why he is the way he is.

The book clearly paves the way for a fourth book in the series, and I'll be interested in seeing what happens to Daniel and Bea next.
goodreads: (Default)
Title: The Forgotten Garden
Author: Kate Morton
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 660
Date read: December, 2012

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century - Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Fascinating book. Rather sad, but without being depressing... just melancholic in places. I liked the way the mystery was unraveled through 3 generations and more than 100 years. I had guessed part of the solution, but definitely not all of it.

It's an engaging book that's difficult to put aside. I rather liked the way the story was told from several different 'voices', although as always - of course - some were more interesting than others. I was glad to see that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together in the end, even though I could have wished that some had turned out differently.
goodreads: (Default)
Title: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Author: Alan Bradley
Genre: Crime, Historical fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: Audiobook ~10hrs
Date read: December, 2012

It is the summer of 1950 - and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.

To Flavia the investigation is the stuff of science: full of possibilities, contradictions, and connections. Soon her father, a man raising his three daughters alone, is seized, accused of murder. And in a police cell, during a violent thunderstorm, Colonel de Luce tells his daughter an astounding story - of a schoolboy friendship turned ugly, of a priceless object that vanished in a bizarre and brazen act of thievery, of a Latin teacher who flung himself to his death from the school's tower thirty years before. Now Flavia is armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together, to examine new suspects, and begin a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself. Of this much the girl is sure: her father is innocent of murder - but protecting her and her sisters from something even worse....

I'm typically not too interested in detective/sleuth type novels. They have to be something very out of the ordinary for me to be impressed (which is probably also why I've never cared for Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes), so it was with some trepidation that I started this audiobook. However, it came highly recommended, so I figured it was worth a shot.

And it was. It kept me nicely entertained for the 10'ish hours it lasted, and while I doubt I'll read any more books in the series, I did rather like Flavia de Luce... even if she wasn't a very believable 11-year-old.

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