Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Publisher: Penguin Books
Source: I purchased for a read along
Links: Goodreads , Amazon
The Shadow of the Wind was equally dark and beautiful. The prose was eloquent and witty. I feel like it takes immense talent to write a story that is both disturbing and comical. This story is set in Barcelona in the year 1945. Daniel’s father owns a bookstore and he has a deep love of stories and words. He happens upon a book, The Shadow of The Wind by Julian Carax. This is a very rare book and not much is known about its author. It becomes Daniel’s ambition to learn more about the author and his writing. While he is trying to learn more, he ends up in the midst of a darker, dangerous plot. Someone has been destroying all of Carax’s work.
This story has several elements. It’s a story about the love of reading and writing. There’s a mystery with several twists and turns. Also, there is a love story and a city that is in a severe state of turmoil post-war. There are characters that are deeply troubled and circumstances that absolutely break your heart.
Zafón perfectly portrays a post-war world. There is tremendous chaos and people have seen or done some deplorable things. It may have permanently altered others; while some characters demonstrate considerable resiliency. I feel like a great example of this would be Fermin’s character. He is definitely a shining light in this dark tale. He tries to find humor where he can despite his circumstances. War leaves no one untouched though. There will always be shadows left behind.
Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Links: Goodreads Amazon
Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a phenomenal read. Laini Taylor created a fascinating world and heart-breaking characters. Her prose was elegant and infused with beautiful vocabulary. She developed enchanting imagery with her character descriptions and you could feel the emotionality of her characters.
Karou is our main character. She is an artist who lives in the human world, but her sketches of creatures and other worldly things just might be real. Even she seems to have unique qualities like growing blue hair, she can speak several languages, and she disappears for days at a time only to turn up again beaten and bruised. Strange things start happening in her other world. There is this guy, Akiva, they seem destined to be enemies; however, there is a strong pull that neither of them can explain.
We follow Karou on this journey of self discovery. This books has major themes of discrimination, stereotyping, and prejudice; which, have led to an all encompassing war that has been ongoing for as long as anyone can remember. Karou means hope. Is there any hope for these characters locked into the societal norm or can they break the mold? I can’t wait to follow the rest of this story.
“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
Book: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Delia Owens created a beautiful, breathtaking debut novel. This is one of the most wonderfully crafted mysteries I’ve ever read. Meet Kya, also referred to as the Marsh Girl. You are brought alongside Kya as she grows from a young, timid, little girl into a woman shadowed by prejudice and hardship. This book flashes back and forth from past to present time setting. In this small North Carolina town, one of its other well known residents, Chase Andrews is found dead. Delia developed magnificent character foils. Where Kya is known for being the poor outcast; Chase is the star quarterback whose family is well off and has a prominent business within the community.
This book explores prejudice, racism, love, loss, and the human condition. Reading this story was an extremely visceral experience. I could feel the magnitude of Kya’s isolation. These characters are very well developed and the plot flows expertly.
If you haven’t read This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel then I highly suggest you run to the nearest library or bookstore. This story is about a family and their struggles with feeling unaccepted because they are different. Rosie and Penn meet, fall in love, and build a family together. They have 5 boys (they kept trying for a girl) and their youngest son Claude likes to wear dresses and wants to be a girl. They struggle with how to deal with everyone’s opinions and reactions to their family. They are open, loving, and completely supportive of whatever makes Claude happy. The real struggles stem from how everyone else will treat Claude. Within their story there is a deeper story that could help foster conversations about this topic and hopefully lead to some greater understanding in the community.
This book is doing great things. You truly feel the love this family has for one another. It really makes you question why we have to make it so much harder for the people around us. Why is it so hard to accept everyone for who they are even if it’s outside the boundaries of what you consider normal? Why does that threaten someone else? The beauty in the world comes from our differences. I went through so much heartache right alongside this family. It makes you realize we all have differences and struggles and we need to be more compassionate and more understanding. I sincerely hope you check this out. This book grew a little bit out of Frankel’s family being able to relate to her characters. It’s not based on her family’s story specifically, but she certainly drew a lot of inspiration from elements they can relate to.
Still Life by Louise Penny takes place in a charming, little town in the middle of nowhere called Three Pines. In this small town, everyone knows everyone and no one feels compelled to lock their doors. That is until one of the residents is found dead under suspicious circumstances. We follow along as Detective Gamache unravels the mystery and reveals various secrets throughout this idyllic community. Everyone has secrets and through this investigation we get to know the townspeople.
This was the perfect, cozy mystery to transition into fall reading. Detective Gamache is likable and doesn’t come off as overly arrogant. His tactics allowed for the citizens of Three Pines to feel like they were apart of his investigations and allowed for them to be a bit more forthcoming with information. Penny’s writing creates some great imagery. How can you not enjoy her writing with lines like, “Gamache enjoyed watching Beauvoir indulge his flamboyant side, and this was about as flamboyant as Beauvoir got. A dramatic pause.” I don’t know, but something about that dramatic pause really had me visualizing their conversation. It added depth to that character. Her verbiage had me laughing at times. It was extremely descriptive. One of my other favorite lines being, “She consulted the yellowing rolodex in her head.” I love the way she describes this characters age to her readers without outright mentioning her age. I adored her writing style.
Is it just me or does anyone else bite hard on the red herrings? They get me every time. Hook, line, and sinker. I one hundred percent have myself convinced that I know what the ending will be and I am always wrong. Flat-out wrong. Oh well, even though I was wrong I love the surprise I get when the big reveal takes place. If you enjoy this genre you will adore this book. It was a delightful read and I can’t wait to continue the series.