Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind has been one of my favorite books since it arrived on my doorstep 4 years ago. This book has something for everyone: romance, revenge, mystery, action, and spectacular plot twists. In the words of Stephen King:

If you thought the true gothic novel died with the nineteenth century, this will change your mind. [The Shadow of the Wind] is the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendor and creaking trapdoors, a novel where even the subplots have subplots…. This is one gorgeous read.

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Review: The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

I read Carson McCullers’s The Ballad of the Sad Café and loved her lyrical prose. Her writing is deceptively simple and has a laid-back, soothing quality—perfect for a vacation. The Member of the Wedding has many of the wonderful qualities that McCullers is known for, but it feels a little loose and repetitive. You could argue the repetition emphasizes and describes the protagonist’s boredom, but the pace drags even at a scant 163 pages. That said, Frankie’s dialogue and ludicrous scheme are simultaneously funny and touching. McCullers strikes a strange balance with such a character; Frankie carries the novel when the plot and supporting characters weaken. read more

Review: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Despite the formidable length of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, the book is mostly a set-up for the sequel. It’s no surprise that Martin’s intended trilogy ballooned into a seven-book extravaganza—focus isn’t his strong suit. I’m not sure if I’ll continue in the series. It might be best to hold off for now since Martin is fond of big gaps (up to six years) between books. There are so many story lines, characters, and plot twists that I’d want to reread the series before each new book and it’s just not good enough that I’d relish the thought of rereading for the sixth book, and again for the seventh.

In short, the focus of the book is the power struggle over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros told through a variety of viewpoints. The Starks of Winterfell are pulled south into a political tangle with the Lannisters. The daughter of a deposed king is gathering an army. Behind a mammoth wall of ice to the north, the Others are stirring. And a ferociously long winter is coming. read more

SBIRIFY: Inferno by Dan Brown

So Bad, I Read It For You: Dan Brown’s Inferno

I realize this new category of book review puts me at risk of seeming pretentious and huffy, but this book is a special kind of awful and deserves a special kind of review. Ordinarily, Brown’s faux history supports a fun series of twists and turns; sure, the writing isn’t all that great, but these books don’t ask to be taken seriously. Robert Langdon, Brown’s recurrent lead, is a delightful fusspot in his Harris Tweed, bragging about his eidetic memory, and spewing irrelevant historical tidbits so that the reader might see him as learned. read more