Fallen

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Fallen by Lauren Kate is apparently the fist volume of a series of some sort.

Target audience? Everybody who is VERY MUCH young adult, if I may say so, but also people who still believe that pigs can fly. Or simply those who need to read something with an empty brain.

Where and when? Savannah, Georgia, modern times.

Strong points? The book cover!

Weak points? The romance between a fallen angel and a mortal is not only one of the most used cliches,  but to screw badly such a generous recipe is almost unforgivable.

Favorite characters? The Angels.

Convince-me! In the end we will read about an unexpected death, which saves the general disaster.

Bonus? The pool built inside a church.

Stars? If I had been a fan of the romance books with Gothic accents, I would have probably given something around 7. But as I am not one, I will not dare.

P.S. My smirking should not stop you from trying to read it. It is possible for the book to bring you pleasure. 🙂

The Tree of Life

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The Tree of Life by Christian Jacq opens a sensational series: The Mysteries of Osiris.

Target audience? Readers fascinated by old civilizations, but especially those who love Ancient Egypt.

Where and when? Abydos, Memphis, during the pharaoh Sesostris’ reign.

Strong points? Unexpected adventures, the slow discovery of a far away world with interesting religious rituals and beliefs, with picturesque characters and funnily appealing names, with enough twist and turns to keep you hooked, conspiracies and a main hero, lacking physical strength, but compensating with a big heart and a lot of brains.

Weak points? Sometimes, the lingering action might not be appreciated by our nowadays fast readers who usually wish non-stop facts, and more facts…and again some more facts. Have patience, ladies and gentlemen, the end of the world is not near. 🙂 You will not regret it.

Favorite characters? North-Wind! An exceptional donkey! 😀 But also Iker, General Sepi, General Nesmontu…

Convince-me! The Herald! If you pay attention, you will discover an uncanny similarity with a “character” of our times. Equally bastard!

Bonus? You will join a magic journey, which will marvelously continue in the next novels of the series!

Stars? 8 plus.

Midnight Voices

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Midnight Voices by John Saul very clearly belongs to the horror genre. And not any horror. But one which freaks you out…by the book.

Target audience? Obviously everybody who loves this genre, but also readers who appreciate a good plot, interesting characters and a great story-teller.

Where and when? New York, modern times.

Strong points? The suspense and the desire to find out what exactly is going on in the building where the characters move become almost unbearable.  The horrific explanations you start to suspect as the story moves forward, but you constantly refuse them as your mind cannot cope with them.

Weak points? The too naive mother who falls in the claws of the bad guys too easily. Sometimes you feel like slapping her.

Favorite characters? Virginia and Irene – the creepiest and the most dubious old ladies. Absolutely horror like!

Convince-me! The bizarre building doorman, who is a favorite topic for whispering in the corners. Is he really a troll? 😀

Bonus? Lavinia Dolameci, Elena Conesici, Gheorghe Birtin… Names with Romanian resonance. Are they important? 🙂 Read and you will find out how come Romania is present in this novel. 🙂

Stars? 8 plus. Almost 9 for the negative characters that make your hair stand on end! 😀

The Killing Moon

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The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin is the first volume of the Dreamblood series.

Target audience? No matter the age, to all lovers of fairy-tales, magic tales and fantastic lands.

Where and when? The ancient city-state of Gujaareh, in a time specific to other dimensions.

Strong points? The world imagined by the author is so special and spectacular, that you have moments when you wish for the novel to never end. The main characters – Ehiru, Sunandi si Nijiri – and the way in which their relationships grow or not! The mind-blowing tenderness of the “killing” Gatherers – you will experience “wow” feelings. The flowing like a river writing style, which keeps you glued to the pages!

Weak points? I have been thinking and thinking, but I could not find anything negative (obviously for the genre to which the book belongs).

Favorite characters? Ehiru and Nijiri (the love between the master and his disciple has, at times, incredibly impressive emotional peaks).

Convince-me! The power of dreams to both kill and heal. Unique!

Bonus? The Reaper! Brilliantly evil! 😀

Stars? 9 plus. 🙂 From the bottom of my heart!

The pursuit of Happiness

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The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy is one of the few contemporary novels which has as the main topic Love and which did not annoy me. On the contrary.

Target audience? Women and young girls alike, but also men and young boys who, for example, are interested in McCarthy period in US.

Where and when? New York, 1945 – present.

Strong points? The love story between Sara Smythe and Jack Malone, the battle on loyalty and moral principles field, the pleasant writing, without cheap stylistic mambo jumbo, the consequences of an erratic destiny, and the author’s unique talent to know how a woman thinks and act (and especially why!).

Weak points? Sometimes the intense analysis steals from the reader the pleasure to struggle hard in finding explanations for certain decisions taken by the characters.

Favorite characters? By far, Sara, Strong, independent, ready to fight with everybody and everything. Besides this, she remains super sane after everything happening to her.

Convince me! The aberrant tragedies of the McCarthy period. You will want to find out more afterwards and you will remain stunned to discover that such things occurred in a country which is considered the ultimate ambassador of democracy and freedom.

Bonus? A brother-sister relationship to die for. Flabbergasting betrayals.

Stars? 8 plus. 🙂

The Blind Assassin

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The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood is the novel for which the author won Booker Prize in 2000.

Target audience? Everybody who likes “wrestling” style.

Where and when? Toronto and Ontario (1914-199), Zycron Planet (undefined).

Strong points? The “wrestling” style. One must have solid talent and crazy courage to use three different narrative styles (one more fragmented than the other) within the same novel and keep the reader’s interest at a high level all along. A very rare and precious feeling for comparisons. Their genuineness can make any writer die with envy.

Weak points? Also the “wrestling” style. It can awfully tire you, unless you have serious reading years behind you.

Favorite characters? The Blind Assassin!

Convince me! The story of the blind assassin (the so called Sci-Fi or mystery part of the novel). It is the one that keeps you glued and which you search for hungrily among the lines dedicated to the two weird sisters’ lives and (sometimes) pathetic adventures.

Bonus? I don’t have one, as I would not read this book for the second time.

Stars? 8. For ingeniousness and guts.

The Book

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Of course my first proper review couldn’t start but with what I call “The Book”.

More precisely, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Target audience? Anybody.

Where and When? Barcelona, 1945 – 1955.

Strong points? The style which makes you lick your fingers (and the author’s, too), the sensational humor, the story within the story (where books are on a high pedestal and they can make the difference between life and death), the mystery, the Gothic, which warms up even the tiniest corner of your soul, nostalgia, and, oh, love…in all its shapes: exuberant, salacious, obsessive, magic.

Weak points? I chop off your head, if you find any. 😀

Favorite characters? All of them. Special mention though for Fermin Romero de Torres!

Convince me! “Man…heats up like a lightbulb: red hot in the twinkling of an eye and cold again in a flash. The female, on the other hand…heats up like an iron. Slowly, over a low heat, like tasty stew. But then, once she has heated up, there’s no stopping her.”

Bonus? “There’s no such thing as dead languages, only dormant minds.”

Stars? Maximum possible in my personal rating: 10