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Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Bookworm's Niche

Copyright 2010-2011 by Mary Aris

The Bookworm's corner is my little corner of the world where I sit and read, review and discuss books. I'm such an avid reader. I am also a writer. I've written three poetry books, two children's books, one young adult book and a Gothic novel. I am a member of Goodreads and Librarything. I have an extensive library and love to read all sorts of books.

Here are a few of the recent books I've read and a short review

The Angel's Game
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
• 978-0297855545
• Weidenfeld & Nicolson; First Edition (1 Jun 2009)

City of the Damned

In 'The Angel's Game', Author Carlos Ruiz Zafon writes a Gothic tale set in a turbulent Barcelona of the 1920's and takes the reader through a labyrinth of winding side-streets, book shops and creaky mansions of Barcelona. 'The Angel's Game tells the story of young David, a Spanish youth of Barcelona who finds solace in books and who spends his nights writing baroque tales in his house. Coming from a troubled childhood, the 17 year old David is taken under by a mentor, Pedro Vidal who works at the local newspaper, 'La Voz de La Industria'. An aspiring writer, David is called on by the editor to write 'The Mysteries of Barcelona'...a baroque tale in instalments about the city's underworld. The novel doesn't sell well and David is disappointed, but soon discovers a letter by a mysterious Frenchman named Andreas Corelli who challenge him to write a novel that will change hearts and minds in exchange for fame and fortune. He accepts and rents a huge but old mansion where he begins to write his next novel, a series in monthly instalments called 'City of the Damned'. But the house holds secrets and has a mind of its own. Within this house David finds letters belonging to the house's previous owner and uncovers secrets of a haunting past.

David writes the 'City of the Damn...a novel that promises him fame and fortune; But soon David discovers that there is more to this Andreas Corelli than meets the eye and finds himself involved in intrigue, secrets, danger and adventure. Zafon has written a book within a book that takes the reader through the alleyways and secret passages through the winding streets of 1920's Barcelona up through the old creaky mansions and book shops that lead to the 'Cemetery of Forgotten Books'....a mysterious underground burial ground for forgotten books underneath the streets of Barcelona...where people come to bury their books. For each book buried there, the reader must take one out to protect and treasure for life. David chooses an ancient book, 'The Lux Aetema', written by a mysterious D.M whose typewriter David finds abandoned in a room within the mansion that he buys.

'The Angel's Game' is a sequel to Zafon's 'Shadows of the Wind'. I found this book very interesting and a page-turner. I couldn't put it down. Being a lover of books and an Independent writer myself I was drawn to this novel by the fact that it was narrated by an aspiring young author thirsty for becoming a successful author. The book opens with these words, '

"A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood, and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that will surely outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price." (The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

Zafon uses references to Dickens's Great Expectations in this book as an allegory to his own life and aspirations. It is both a love story and a Ghost Story wrapped up in one intriguing novel that leaves one in suspense to the very end.

The book was translated to English from Spanish by poet Robert Grave's grand-daughter, Lucia Graves.
Zafon, a Spanish Author was born in Barcelona and is lived in Los Angeles. He has published several books, 'Las Luces de Septiembre', 'El Principe de la Niebla (The Prince in the Mist), 'Shadows in the Wind' (The sequel to 'The Angel's Game). Zafon has been influenced by the Classics such as Dickens, Tolstoy, Dumas and Hugo.

What I found in this book was more than just a love of books and the desire to write....I found a book that was hard to put down. I must admit that I am not normally spooked by what I read, but this story spooked me in places and I was moved by Zafon's style of suspense and straight forward narrative. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves books, writing and adventure

French Fried: One man's Move to France
by Chris Dolley

Book View Cafe (2010), Kindle Edition

French Fried is the zanily funny story about one man's odyssey when he decides to sell his farm in Devon, England and move to rural France with his wife, Shelagh and all their animals, two horses, three cats, including a large constipated dog named Gypsy and a horse that stubbornly refuses to go anywhere near a Horsebox. To add insult to this misadventurous chaos, Chris's identity is stolen, his bank account empty to the last penny, and Chris discovers to his dismay that somebody opens a bank account under his name in Ireland and someone cashes in on this bank account in Spain. Chris is caught in an international dilemma but the police in four countries can't help him as they each argue that the case is under each countries' jurisdiction. The French government says that it is a matter of to be dealt by English authorities as the correspondence came from England. The British authorities wash their hands of the case, even if British Passports were forged to open the account in Ireland. Another account under Chris' name is opened in Spain. This is where the money was drawn out from. The Spanish authorities are on holiday and won't contemplate to investigate the matter until they're back from holiday. Alarmed and angered, Chris decides to take matters into his own hands and becomes a sleuth himself to get to the bottom of this caper. He is no Sherlock Holmes....Chris undertakes matters in his own hands with his trusty 80 year old mother-in-law and 'excitable' puppy.

The Author writes his own account of his move to France in 1995. This is a true story. The story is told in the first person. The author, Chris is the Narrator. It was originally titled, Nous sommes Anglais. I really enjoyed this book. It made me laugh in places. My favourite scene was the bit where the Horse, Rhiannon, didn't want to go into the Horse Box. No matter how much they cajoled him and bribed him with apples and polo mints, the Horse would be immovable and refuse to mount the plank to get into the Horsebox. Shelagh managed to cajole him to mount the ramp at some point, but then the horse kicked its heels and climbed out. But when Chris and Shelagh were about to give in, Rhiannon clambered up inside the Horse box with no qualms as if to say 'I'll give 'em hell first, then show 'em who is boss!' It would be interesting if this book were to be made into a movie. I'd certainly watch it. This book is a great read and makes a light read to take on holiday with you.

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